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The Pelican Feeding Frenzy Continues....

I say "continues", since this has been going on for a couple of weeks now.   Working 6 days a week, we just passed this phenomenon each day on our way from Moss Beach to our gallery.  We figured that all of the local snap-shooters who have more time on their hands would get some nice shots that we all could enjoy. But on that rare day off, we decided to check it out.  Mike & I had intended to go out on the jetty for closer shots of the pelicans feeding, but decided not to after seeing another vehicle's car window broken out in the parking lot. We later saw some officers surrounding the vehicle, to take a report - but that is beside the point! We didn't want to go too far from the car....
 
Even though the snapshots I took for this column are not close-up long shots, you get the idea of the feeding frenzy....and it was even wilder earlier in the week. The harbor seal you see in a couple of the shots was friendly! But watching the crazy dive-bombing & splashing,  I should have just taken video....glad I was wearing a hat!

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john.beresniewicz August 15, 2013 at 09:22 PM
check this iPhone quicktime vid out: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zudd06i478g8tl4/IMG_1161.MOV
Deb Wong August 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM
That was great, John! Here is another one I found - shows more of the "dive-bombing": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDbTZGiHsp0
john.beresniewicz August 16, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Yeah, that one was good. Much closer view than my iPhone could do without zoom. thanks!
Christa Bigue (Editor) August 16, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Wonderful photos! They were out there like crazy again today. Does anyone know what exactly they are feeding on?
Sue Pemberton August 17, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Christa - They are feeding on bait fish, probably anchovies that are being seen very close to shore lately. And Deb, I would love to clarify a couple of points and hopefully educate people a little. First - they aren't invaders. Pelicans are a native California bird and a species that has been in existence, virtually unchanged, for 30 million years. What everyone is fortunate enough to be witnessing is nature at its best - an animal who is thriving in its environment. With all due respect, I feel like they were being described in a negative light and I would love to see people marvel at pelicans feeding on a bait ball, rather than seeing them as invaders or out-of-towners.
Deb Wong August 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Sue, I have removed all of the negative references to pelicans in my post. Actually, some of my best friends are pelicans (see photos I added). You have to agree that the sheer numbers of birds at Surfer's Beach is slightly unusual.
Sue Pemberton August 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM
in 1971, Brown pelicans were placed on the Endangered Species list, mostly due to the effects of DDT on their reproduction. It's highly likely that there just weren't enough around when we were younger for us to notice their natural migration and feeding behaviors. They were de-listed in 2009 and their numbers are healthy. So enjoy the show for the next couple of months. They'll be returning to warmer SoCal waters in the winter. Cheers!
Sue Pemberton August 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Thanks, Deb!! I haven't been down to Surfer's but they are probably following bait, which is very close to shore. That means we're probably gonna see them a lot more until the bait moves offshore or they move along. I'll go down to Surfers and check it out.
Deb Wong August 17, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Thank you, Sue, for the education - we are always learning! Makes it a lot more understandable. :)
Terry Tenzing August 18, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Thank you for pointing out this beautiful happenstance of nature... Last night there were six seal heads peaking out of the surf just off shore! And just beyond the initial raft of pelicans thousands of Sooty Searwaters migrating. It is not usual that they come so close to shore to be seen so easily with the naked eye.

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