At-sea seabird surveys

Seabird observations at sea provide valuable information about seabird distribution and abundance.  These data are coupled with hydrographic and plankton data that are collected concurrently by the ship during survey transects, which provides researchers a snapshot of ecosystem conditions and biological community structure at several trophic levels.  Farallon Institute conducts at-sea seabird surveys on two research program cruises each year, described below.  Data are available by request, and survey summary reports are available here.

Southern-Central California

We conduct at-sea seabird surveys seasonally as part of the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI), California Current Ecosystem - Long-term Ecological Research (CCE-LTER), and Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) programs.  These cruises take place in the Southern California Bight and along the Central California Coast.  For each cruise, a seabird observer is stationed on the bridge of the ship and records the number and species of birds seen from the ship.  The data software records the geographic position of the ship for each seabird observation and we can analyze seabird density by location.  Initiated by other agencies, Farallon Institute has been responsible for this surveying since 2008; full time series extend back to 1987. 

Central California-Oregon

We also conduct at-sea seabird surveys annually on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Juvenile Rockfish-Ecosystem Survey off the central-northern California coast and extending up the Oregon coast.  Time series extend back to 1996, and FI observers have done the surveys since 2008.  Survey methods are the same as for the Southern California observations.

Flesh-footed shearwater. Photo copyright by  Ron LeValley .

Flesh-footed shearwater. Photo copyright by Ron LeValley.

Black-footed albatross.  Photo by Sophie Webb, spring 2017 CalCOFI cruise.

Black-footed albatross.  Photo by Sophie Webb, spring 2017 CalCOFI cruise.