Monday, June 6, 2011

Farallon Islands

Yesterday was by far one of the coolest days of my life! The Farallon Islands is a small group (only about 200 acres) of islands 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco. PRBO has biologists out there year-round who conduct different types of surveys depending on the season. The summer is largely dedicated to seabird monitoring. The biologists are the only people who live on the Farallones and very few people from the outside get a chance to visit. They have food delivered to them once every 2 weeks. Because I also work for PRBO I got the chance to volunteer to do the food shop and bring it all to the island!

The food run was absolutely insane! It took 3 hours to do, cost 1110 dollars, and filled 4 carts! We worked until midnight packing the food and then got up at 4:30 to drive to the marina in San Francisco in the pouring rain. We got to the marina and received a call from  the island saying that the weather was too bad and we wouldn't be able to get out there. Luckily, we were able to make it out there yesterday instead and I was ecstatic that I managed to not get seasick once the whole trip!

Because there is no actual place to land on the island, they have to send out a small boat to relay all the supplies back and forth from the large boat to the island. So once we got there, the small boat met us out in the water, and I hopped on with some of the supplies. Then a huge crane comes and attaches to the boat and then lifts the entire boat with me in it out of the water and onto a landing pad. I got out and then started my tour of the island while they unpacked all the food. 

Species Seen on the Island:
-Western Gull
-California Gull
-Black Oystercatcher
-Brandt's Cormorant
-Pelagic Cormorant
-Brown Pelican
-American White Pelican
-Canada Goose
-Brant Goose
-Common Murre
-Elephant Seal
-California Seal 

Western Gull. During the breeding season the gulls get very aggressive. The entire time I was on the island all I could hear was their screaming. The biologists who do nest checks have to wear hard hats to protect themselves!

And this is the reason the gulls get so aggressive. They need to protect their babies!

A chick hatching out of the left egg. 

Common Murre

Male Brandt's Cormorant

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