Avoid disturbing seabirds during breeding season

By on Wed, April 21, 2010


With breeding season underway, NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary urges coastal visitors, whether boaters and paddlers or small aircraft pilots, to avoid disturbing nesting seabirds. In Spring, seabirds often favor the protection of rugged coastal cliffs and offshore islands, and will form dense, noisy breeding colonies in areas such as Devil’s Slide Rock,  Pt. Reyes and the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco, and the Farallon Islands.

Although seabirds spend most of their time at sea, they must come to land to rest, nest and rear their chicks. Colonies of several hundred thousand may form adjacent to fish-rich ocean waters that also attract fishermen, boaters, pilots, birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts.  Seabirds will neglect their young if disturbed repeatedly, and may abandon a colony altogether.

“Seabirds are indicators of change in ocean conditions – an early warning system for scientists and managers of fisheries and marine protected areas,” said Maria Brown, sanctuary superintendent. “Healthy colonies are the best baseline for detecting the type and severity of changes that occur.”

Coastal users can also download maps of sensitive areas and overflight information at http://farallones.noaa.gov/eco/seabird/welcome.html.