State of the Ocean Newsletter, Spring 2018

- Farallon Institute News
- Seabirds on Alcatraz Island
- Grey Whales Moving North
- Salmon Restrictions Yet Again


Farallon Institute News

  • We have started a NASA funded project on understanding biogeography zooplankton of the subarctic North Pacific and a NOAA - California Sea Grant project estimating krill biomass in the California Current.  Both are multiyear effots and will expand our knowledge of prey in the Pacific. 
  • We have also been taking our act on the road, bringing the latest "State of the Ocean" talk to over 300 people this Spring.    

Ocean conditions seem pretty average right now.  The tug of war between El Nino (warm/less productive) and La Nina (cold/more productive) conditions has been going La Nina's way the past 6 months but is fairly neutral on the whole.  Wintertime upwelling of cold nutrient rich water is important to pre-condition the system for the most productive time of our coastal ocean...spring.  Over the next three months we will get a good indication of the level of krill and forage fish in the ocean from seabird reproductive success and our shipboard surveys for krill and seabirds in May-June 2018.  

See below for the latest on our Alcatraz surveys, Gray Whale Migration studies off Santa Barbara, and the prognosis for the 2018 Salmon fishery.

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Seabirds on Alcatraz

Farallon Institute's seabird studies on Alcatraz Island have begun our 24th season.  Brandt's Cormorants began nesting much earlier than previous years and have already laid eggs.  This usually indicates that ocean conditions and food resources in the coastal ocean have been advantageous over the past couple months.    

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Grey Whale Migration

Grey Whales are beginning their northward migration from Baja to Alaska and are being counted by volunteers up and down the California Coast.  Over 400 had been counted in Santa Barbara through mid-March!  Mothers and calves lag a bit behind the first northward wave and should be reaching northern California by early April.  Point Reyes juts out into the ocean and forms a great vantage point to see these magnificent creatures as they pass our shores. Check our the following website for a daily update...www.graywhalescount.org

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Fisheries News

Early indicators predict another poor salmon year in 2018.  Recreational fishing of salmon will be prohibited north of Pigeon Point (just south the Golden Gate Bridge) in April and more restrictions on the recreational and commercial fishery are likely forthcoming at the next Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting.  Low numbers of returning salmon for the third consecutive year are likely due to the extended drought conditions in 2014-16 and a warmer and less productive ocean during that time frame.