Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

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The Battles Begin

The genus Mirounga comprises the northern and southern elephant seals, the largest pinnipeds in the world. Our large northern elephant seal bulls on Southeast Farallon Island weigh up to 5,000 pounds – some particularly massive ones are even heavier. Northern elephant seals are highly sexually dimorphic, with males weighing 3 to 6 times more than […]

By | January 6, 2010

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It’s big, it’s blue, it’s broken!

Living on a remote island wildlife refuge is a wonderful experience for the biologists and research assistants of PRBO. However, all food and personnel must come and go via boat, and the ocean is so rough at SEFI that no boat docks exist. Our main facility for getting things and people on and off the […]

By | December 21, 2009

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Winter Season Begins

The 2010 winter crew has arrived at SEFI, eager to being monitoring this season’s northern elephant seal reproduction. We welcomed the continued presence of California and Steller sea lions at Sand Flat and Mirounga Beach, our main elephant seal breeding beaches. Northern fur seals have even been spotted twice at Sand Flat over the past […]

By | December 11, 2009

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Effective conservation of a species requires that you have some idea as to how many individuals there are in a population, whether the population is stable, growing, or declining, and what factors may influence those trends. The Farallon Islands are home to the largest seabird colony in the contiguous United States and currently have more than […]

By | November 26, 2009

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Farallon Update – Nov 8

A crew transfer occurred on Oct 25th ushering in a shift from the early and mid season migration to the late season migration. During fall migration, the early migrants include the bulk of the shorebirds, flycatchers, and warblers which pass through mostly during late August and September. During October, these species begin tapering off rapidly […]

By | November 8, 2009

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Farallon Update – October 21

Well it’s been a quiet week on Southeast Farallon, our home island, out here on the edge of the continental shelf. With September being one of the slowest on record (we banded 90% fewer birds than average), the crew was a bit downtrodden. We had to take joy in the few birds that were showing […]

By | October 22, 2009

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It’s October….Where Are The Birds??

It has been about two weeks since our last update from the Farallones, and although a few birds have come and gone, we are still awaiting (hotly anticipating) a Fall fallout. Strong Northwesterly winds and dense fog have conspired to keep birds away from our Island, but we remain hopeful that things will pick up […]

By | October 3, 2009

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Farallon Bird and Insect Update_15-Sept-09

The weather this fall has not cooperated much to bring migrants to Southeast Farallon Island. Typically in the fall, nocturnal migrants land on the island when there is a light east to southeast wind that pushes the birds offshore. If there is cloud cover over the coast (usually a marine layer or fog), then the […]

By | September 16, 2009

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The Fall Season Begins

August 22nd marked the start of PRBO Conservation Science’s Fall Season here on Southeast Farallon Island, when focus shifts from the spring and summer breeding seabird monitoring, to the Passerine migration and Great White Shark monitoring of the fall. PRBO Biologists that arrived on the Island yesterday were Jim Tietz, Ryan Terrill, Jill Gautreaux, and […]

By | September 5, 2009

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There Be Whales Here!

With the arrival of August, we have seen the departure of many breeding seabirds. Most Cassin’s Auklets chicks have fledged, Common Murres are no longer present, and Western Gull fledglings are beginning to take flight. The fog has lifted most days, giving us excellent visibility for whale watching. While there has been a great reduction […]

By | August 11, 2009