Los Farallones

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

The Power of the Sea

Giant Swells breaking across Sewer Gulch

Break, break, break
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet, 1842

20ft waves wipe out Study Point Peninsula in Maintop Bay

It’s Alaska big out here!

Jonathan Shore, Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, today

In 15 years of coming to the Farallones, I’ve seen a lot of storms – but today was a real treat. In the morning it was ~18feet swell out of the West Northwest with king tide and wind waves on top of that. A real incredible show, particularly on the north side of the island. These great photos were taken by intern RJ Roush. These events are always amazing – I find myself behaving like a 10 year old “Wow! look at that one!” They are humbling, as we move into winter in this unique El Nino year we will likely see more of them. The video below is a montage – I believe our first ever on Los Farallones, hey even Rocky had a montage. This is something I have never seen before myself, and only viewed in an old photograph that hung on the wall here when I first started coming to the island and has disappeared. What you are looking at here at one picture per second is a massive wave hitting Sea Lion Islet on the NW side of the island, with spray engulfing it completely. And a bonus rainbow!

Sea Lion Islet gets swallowed in this montage video

We figure from topographic maps that Sea Lion Islet is ~80ft tall! Wow! (again…)
Observations like this remind us of the raw power of the “Pacific” ocean, our unique position to be on the Refuge everyday, and our ability to view sightings like these in a long term context. And also why I’m glad we don’t have a boat landing scheduled for anytime soon…

Russ Bradley
Farallon Program Manager, Point Blue