California MOCI

(Multivariate Ocean Climate Index) 

MOCI is an indicator that synthesizes a number of local and regional ocean and atmospheric conditions that represent, in a holistic manner, the state of the California coastal ocean.  MOCI includes data that is readily available from the Internet so the indicator can be updated and shared regularly via this website.


MOCI captures ENSO events across decades, as well as the intensity and phasing of the most recent North Pacific marine heat wave, dubbed 'The Blob'.  It also shows differences in the magnitude and timing of ocean climate variability in different regions off California.  MOCI has skill relative to marine ecosystem dynamics from zooplankton to top predators, and therefore may be important to ecosystem-based fisheries and wildlife management. 

This season’s MOCI values were mostly within one standard deviation in 2018, but central and southern California coast have experienced a warmer fall (October to December). Southern California has experienced the longest period (5 years) with only positive MOCI values, from 2014 through 2018 (see figure).  To access the current MOCI data (December, 2018), plots and references, click in the box below.

Krill Hydroacoustic Data


Farallon Institute has analyzed 17 years of multi-beam acoustic data for krill in the California Current. Data comes from NOAA ship surveys extended from San Diego, California to Port Townsend, Washington.We mapped these surveys to examine the spatial distribution, densities, and persistence of krill aggregations in relation to oceanographic conditions, marine predator distributions, and bathymetric features like the continental shelf and submarine canyons. This research has important applications for conservation and marine spatial planning, particularly for designating ecologically important areas of the most productive and persistent prey aggregations in the California Current.


The number of nautical miles sampled within 25km2 grid cells from 2000-2016. 

The number of nautical miles sampled within 25km2 grid cells from 2000-2016. 


Alcatraz seabird monitoring

Farallon Institute monitors population size, breeding phenology, and productivity of seabirds (Brandt's cormorant and western gull) on Alcatraz Island from approximately March-September.  Nests are monitored twice a week.  Additionally, we also monitor disturbances to the breeding areas since Alcatraz Island is heavily visited by people, including a separate monitoring study during the 4th of July fireworks event.  

Alcatraz Island is an important breeding colony for these seabirds.  It is one of only two estuarine colonies for Brandt's cormorants, and it is the the largest colony of western gulls in San Francisco Bay.  Though it is an important natural resource in the bay habitat, Alcatraz also is one of the most significant historical places in San Francisco; more than 1 million visitors tour the island annually.  The island is delicately managed by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and National Park Service to balance use and conservation.

Farallon Institute produces reports each year to describe and summarize monitoring results.  These reports are freely available-- please email Julie Thayer.

Seabird at-sea surveys

Image courtesy of  CalCOFI .

Image courtesy of CalCOFI.

Farallon Institute conducts seasonal at-sea surveys of seabirds on the CalCOFI (California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation) survey grid (above) and on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Juvenile Rockfish-Ecosystem research program survey offshore of California and Oregon.  These surveys are an integral part of the CalCOFI Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) and Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) programs.  FI and other agencies have been collecting these observations since 1987 and these extensive observations, along with concurrently collected hydrographic and plankton data, contribute to understanding the effects of climate variability and change in the southern California Current Ecosystem. 

We produced annual reports of survey summaries from 2011-2016, and are moving to seasonal reports beginning in 2017.

CalCOFI survey reports:

Juvenile Rockfish-Ecosystem Survey reports: