January 20, 2010
The Farallon Islands have been pummeled by a series of major storms over the past few days. The massive swells crashing into the island are awe-inspiring and the intermittent heavy rains are filling our cistern with much-needed drinking water to last PRBO biologists the rest of the year.
The huge waves – especially at high tide – wreaked havoc in our elephant seal breeding colony. Mirounga Beach and Log Channel filled completely with water. Just prior to the storms, Mirounga Beach had 16 cows and 5 pups. Once the storms hit, we thought all pups there were washed out. However, yesterday we spotted 2 tenacious pups still alive and attempting to move to higher ground! Many of the Mirounga Beach cows moved up to the protected Sand Flat, bumping up the population on the flat from 50 to 62 cows over just 2 days.
The storms are expected to last a few more days, with a break over the weekend and then more rain next week! Luckily the new blind on the hill overlooking Sand Flat not only hides us from the skittish California sea lions, but also provides us some shelter from the elements while we continue to monitor the elephant seals every day, rain or shine.