The Farallon Islands – “California’s Galapagos” – support nearly a third of the state’s nesting seabirds. By protecting seabirds’ foraging grounds, prey populations and breeding colonies, the North Central Coast marine protected areas stand to benefit seabirds such as the pigeon guillemot, pelagic cormorant, Brandt's cormorant, common murre and black oystercatcher. Several special closure areas, established as part of the marine protected areas network, will require that vessels keep at least 300 feet or 1,000 feet (depending on the closure) from important breeding colonies. It is hoped that the special closures will protect birds from disturbances that can cause breeding failure and even colony abandonment. The goal of this project is to expand existing seabird monitoring programs, led by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and PRBO Conservation Science, to create a baseline of seabird population sizes, reproductive success and foraging distributions relative to the newly established marine protected areas, including the special closures. Expanding these studies will allow scientists to test whether the protected areas are indeed benefiting seabirds and if not how to adaptively manage the protected areas so that they do.
Baseline Characterization of Newly Established Marine Protected Areas within North Central Coast Study Region—Seabird Colony and Foraging Studies