Los Farallones

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

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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

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Elephant Seal Update

The northern elephant seal breeding season is in full swing, with 12 cows and 5 pups on Sand Flat (including Drip, Kyra, Aphrodite, and Gypsy with pups, and Siu and Arwen still pregnant), 3 cows and 1 pup in Mirounga Beach, and 1 newly arrived cow on the Marine Terrace of Sand Flat. The photo […]

By | January 6, 2009

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The Battles Have Begun

With the arrival of the first (and so far, the only) pregnant elephant seal cow on Sand Flat – Drip, a 16-year-old cow born on SEFI in 1992 (see photo below of Drip with some amorous young subadults pining after her) – the battles between the males have started. Mauricio was the first bull to […]

By | December 15, 2008

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Sea Lions on Mirounga Beach

It started when cormorants began nesting on the marine terrace of Sand Flat and Mirounga Beach (the primary northern elephant seal areas on SEFI) in spring and summer 2007. To prevent disturbance to these seabirds, PRBO biologists stopped checking on the northern elephant seals to read tags in this area during seabird breeding season and […]

By | December 7, 2008

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Todays weather was windy and cool, and yesterdays rain had ceased. We were able to do some sharkwatching and observed two attacks. One was a Maintop Bay attack on an Elephant Seal. The attack attracted large numbers of gulls and produced a large slick of blood and oil in the water. The shark itself was […]

By | November 11, 2008