Monday, July 23, 2012

Pelican Die-Off, Bait Fish and El Niño

Typical Brown Pelican Fish Dive
The Brown Pelican has had a successful breeding season in 2012 and are now showing up in significant numbers along the California Coast.
Young juveniles, first year birds however are showing signs of trouble. Many are emaciated and starving and many are filling the local bird rescue stations for treatment. Scientist have not come up with an explanation yet. It could just be a successful breeding season, coupled with limited resources is just a natural culling of the weaker individuals.

Fisheries in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay are reporting low volumes of of anchovy and sardines, bait fish that are a staple food for the Brown Pelican.

Probably unrelated, but NOAA has issued an El Niño Watch because of water temperature fluctuations in their model predictors. The last significant  El Niño event was the winter of 1996-97. Having lived on the coastside at that time, I'm seeing subtle changes in temperature and fog distribution this summer similar to what I experience in 1996.
I will continue to monitor the Brown Pelican situation on the coast and report any new information. If you come across any Brown Pelicans acting strangely or in need of help, please call this number 1-866-945-3911, Thank you!

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