Alcatraz Island seabird monitoring

2010-Present

La Isla de los Alcatraces, "Island of Pelicans", dubbed by Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775 for the abundance of pelicaniforms and other seabirds, is a regionally important breeding site for seabirds on the West Coast of North America. In conjunction with the National Park Service Golden Gate National Recreation Area, we have studied the populations and productivity of seabirds on Alcatraz Island since the early 1990s (Saenz et al. 2006). Potential disturbance to breeding birds is of concern because Alcatraz is the most heavily-visited tourist destination in northern California, with well over one million visitors annually. Moreover, given its proximity to San Francisco, various activities including firework displays and the America's Cup sailboat racing may cause disturbance to the birds. Field studies focus on the breeding ecology of Brandt's cormorant and western gull. Data reports are available upon request.

Heather Robinson conducts the Alcatraz seabird monitoring.

Heather Robinson conducts the Alcatraz seabird monitoring.

At-sea seabird monitoring

2008-present

Southern California

We conduct at-sea seabird monitoring seasonally on the CalCOFI cruise in the Southern California Bight. 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. Initiated by other agencies, Farallon Institute has done the monitoring since 2008, and time series extend back to 1993. 

Central California

We also conduct at-sea seabird monitoring annually on the NOAA juvenile rockfish cruise off the central California coast. Time series extend back to 1996, and FI observers have done the monitoring since 2008. Survey methods are the same as for the Southern California monitoring.

Photo copyright by Ron LeValley.

Photo copyright by Ron LeValley.