Los Farallones

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

People Power

Farallon Seabird Crew 2007

On June 7th, 1967, C.J. Ralph and John Smail became the first PRBO biologists to overnight on the Farallones. They spent 4 nights on the island, as guests of the Coast Guard who were still permanently stationed here. I’m sure these biologists could not imagine the idea that PRBO would have a continuous presence on the Farallones from April 3rd 1968 to the present day.

We often focus on the research and conservation efforts of PRBO’s 40 years on the Farallones, but we can never forget that lots of hardworking people have made this happen – be they PRBO Farallon Biologists, volunteers, USFWS staff, outside researchers, or contractors etc. From 1967 to April 30th 2011,  1405 people have been fortunate enough to spend at least one night on the Farallones, working with PRBO or USFWS activities. Most time has been spent by PRBO biologists and volunteers, who now spend at least 6 weeks at a time on island stints. Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970s, Some PRBO biologists spent well over 200 days a year on the island.

Steve Morrell crossing Jordan Channel 1977
Though much has changed in the Farallon ecosystem over 4 decades, what has not changed is the role the Farallones has played in shaping multiple generations of biologists. The first photo below is of Farallon Biologist Ron LeValley with a Cassin’s Auklet chick in 1977. Below him is volunteer Matt Barbour, also with an auklet chick, but in 2007.

Within a field season, many volunteers spend multiple months on the island, often with an occasional 2 week break. This long term staffing helps to create better scientific data, as well as excellent experience for up and coming scientists to learn from. In addition, many Farallon biologists have spent many years working on the island, as we all feel very strongly connected to our work, this incredible place, and the amazing passionate and committed people one finds out here.
Brandt’s Cormorant Banding 2006
So the next time you ponder the Farallones, remember all the people whose hard work and dedication has made our unique program a reality. Below are the 22 men and 3 women of the the Farallon “Top 25”, in terms of numbers of nights spent on the island during PRBO’s tenure, as of April 30, 2011. ID# shows where an individual fits in in the PRBO Farallon timeline, as the first person in 1967 was #1.