Los Farallones

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

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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

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Mist Netting for Rhinos

Often when you hear about mist netting, it brings to mind images of delicate perching birds, like warblers and thrushes, hanging in mesh before being picked out by biologists.  We do our fair share of this on the Farallones as fall brings waves of vagrant land birds out to the islands.  However, as the seabird […]

By | July 19, 2009

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The Strange Case of the Missing Cormorants…

       It was the first indication that this year would be different: there were no Brandt’s Cormorants to be found on the Farallones in April. The colonies looked like ghost towns. Now and then a lonely bird would wander through the patches of murres, but the regularly spaced nests that made up the downtown metropolis […]

By | June 26, 2009

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A Mighty Wind

Our annual spring switchover has come and gone on the Farallones. The winter crew has departed along with the breeding elephant seals and the seabird season has begun. It’s been an interesting start to the season for us – Cassin’s Auklets are breeding and look to be off the their best start in several years, […]

By | April 19, 2009

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Team Mirounga Goes Intertidal

This past week the winter crew took advantage of daytime low tides by visiting some of the many caves and tide pools around SEFI. We were able to explore Jewel Cave and Little Murre Cave, both difficult to access unless a very low tide coincides with calm seas and no timid Harbor Seals napping on […]

By | March 13, 2009

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Winter rain, spring flowers

In addition to providing PRBO biologists with drinking water for the year, winter rains cause SEFI’s plant life to burst into bloom. Wildflowers dot the typically brown landscape with a range of colors, from subtle purple to bright yellow, all against a backdrop of green, making late winter and early spring undoubtedly the most botanically […]

By | February 26, 2009

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Action on the Beach

With only a handful of female elephant seals remaining on Sand Flat and Mirounga Beach, the bulls are vying for any last-minute mating opportunities. Bedlam Boy deserted the marine terrace harem with its one lingering cow, headed to Mirounga Beach which still had 8 cows, and kicked out former harem-master Mauricio. Not to be deterred, […]

By | February 25, 2009

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Powered by the Sun

The Southeast Farallon Island research station is powered primarily by the sun’s energy. Eleven years ago, a solar array was installed on the roof of the powerhouse and a battery bank inside supplies the houses and workshops with electricity. Those solar panels and batteries served us very well for the past decade. This solar power […]

By | February 22, 2009

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Weaner City 2009

This is every elephant seal lover’s favorite time of year. Plump, big-eyed weaned pups are now the most numerous age class of elephant seals on SEFI. The beaches and marine terrace are strewn with weaners who were left behind when their hungry mothers headed back out to sea after nursing their pups for 25 to […]

By | February 20, 2009

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West End Excursion

Today, SEFI biologists made a special, all-day excursion over Jordan Channel to West End Island to check two elephant seal breeding beaches. This trip is a rarity and a privilege because West End receives an extra level of protection from human disturbance. Literally thousands of seabirds and California sea lions reside here, as well as […]

By | February 6, 2009