The 44th annual meeting in Tacoma is underway. Kyle’17 presented the results of three years of study at The Sea Ranch in a poster. Co-authors were Ellie’18, Jeffrey’17, Ramon’16 and Diane Hichwa from Madrone Audubon. Kyle’s parents came to see him present!
Today is my last day collecting data at Sea Ranch–the weather is very foggy and a little bit rainy. I think Seattle might be sending its weather down here, telling me it’s time to head home. Here is a photo from this morning at GPI N that shows the fog and the difficulties it creates in collecting data!
The breeding season here at Sea Ranch has been a little unusual this year, especially at GPI. Overall, there were a total of 38 nests at GPI N and 41 nests at GPI S. Unfortunately, we did not see any WEGU chicks from any nests reach the juvenile stage of development. About half of the WEGU nests hatched chicks and half were abandoned before any chicks were seen. We suspect that a Peregrine falcon may be the cause of this abnormal number of chicks, as one morning, a group at GPI S witnessed the falcon swooping low over the gulls and snatching up a chick! Following that incident, we often saw a Peregrine falcon perched on the far north end of GPI, spying on potential prey.
The Pelagic cormorants at Breakers Reach had a better year than the WEGUs at GPI, with about a 50% success rate in the number of nests that hatched chicks. Of 28 nests, so far 14 nests have hatched eggs, 13 nests have been abandoned, and one is still sitting on a nest with three eggs. Overall, it seems like once Pelagic chicks hatch, they make it to adulthood. Only one nest had a chick that disappeared after a few days and the nest was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Thank you to everyone who played such an important role in this summer’s adventures! This was an incredible experience that taught me so much about long term ecological studies, dedicated observation skills, and asking thoughtful questions that may not have a clear answer. It was wonderful meeting many Sea Ranch locals and visitors and getting to share what we have been working on these past three years (at Pomona) and past several years (with the Sea Ranch Task Force).
For now, goodbye Sea Ranch, I hope to see you again!
We have a chick! On June 17th, the first Pelagic cormorant chicks were seen at Breakers Reach at Site E, nest #4. There appears to be at least 3 chicks, but may be four. Two days ago (June 26th), I saw the first chick at Site C, which is the site I am doing feeding observations at this summer. That day, I set up my station and started looking at all of the PECO nests. When I got to nest #4, there was a tiny chick peeping out from under its parent, bobbing its head around, looking for something to eat. The following day another chick had hatched at the same nest and I expect a few more from that nest and a few other nests over the next week.
I attempted to take photos through the scope, but as you can tell from the photo below, I haven’t been that successful…
This was an attempted photo of the BLOY nest I have been watching. I am working on my skills and hopefully will get better at this, so more people can see the Pelagic chicks! For now, please enjoy a photo of a banana slug I saw and a beautiful sunset from Sea Ranch!
More photos and updates coming soon!
Hello from Sea Ranch! This summer, I have embarked to Sea Ranch to continue the work of the past two summers (thank you to everyone who came the past two years!). I visit Gualala Point Island almost every morning and observe sea birds and their nests from either the north or the south. Here is the beautiful south view point
So far, we have fewer visible nests, but more Brandt’s nests from the aerial photos. We are waiting for an aerial photo from June, in which there will hopefully be a lot more nests!
I also spend most afternoons at Breaker Reach, watching a group of Pelagic Cormorants. There are seven nests there and three of the nests have eggs in them. Two of the nests have four eggs and the third has three eggs. I am keeping my eyes out for more eggs as they come. Once a week, I observe a Black Oystercatcher pair at Tidepool. The pair recently hatched three chicks! Below is a photo of the observation point. I attempted to get a photo through the scope, but was unsuccessful.
I will continue posting with more updates on the sea birds and life at Sea Ranch!
Nik’11 who studied how the distribution of seabirds varied around Santa Barbara Island for his senior thesis, is finishing his Master’s degree in Economics at the Univerzita Karlova, in Prague, Czech Republic. He is doing the important work of environmental economics. He has managed to combine his interests in biology, botany and economics! Nik made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Mendelian genetics; Mendel’s abbey where he carried out his classic pea experiments!
Sagehens with Albatrosses! Both Kristina McOmber’12 and Nai de Gracia’14 are working on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge! Here they are fixing a gapped band of a black-footed albatross. Albatross are so long lived that they need their bands re-closed if they start to develop gaps in order to last the next several decades.
The summer undergraduate research program (SURP) poster session was held yesterday and Jeffrey, Kyle, Leo, Mimi and Elika presented posters.
Jeffrey presented his poster twice that day, the second time was at a dinner to thank donors who contributed to the SURP program.
Everyone did an OUTSTANDING job!
I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all of the wonderful people who made this summer so spectacular, especially Joel Llopiz and everyone in his lab!
Joel was SO generous and made space for me to bring in and work on a new project in his already very busy lab. Also happening in the lab were studies looking at the diets of forage fish along the NE coast through gut analysis and stable isotopes, and using otoliths from larval river herring from different areas to determine growth rate and survivorship. Really cool stuff!!
So much of what made this summer so great is the amazing people who I was able to work with. Joel, Martha, Andy, and Julie (and Penny): thank you so much for all of your great advice and guidance, and for welcoming me into your lab family this summer. I had such a wonderful, interesting, educational, and unforgettable summer at WHOI!
To everyone reading this, check out Joel’s lab page!!
Mimi presented her summer research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Poster Session.
She gave a great two minute talk!
For the rest of the poster session she was surrounded.
It was really exciting that her Mom and Dad were able to see her in action!
I was very proud too!
Hi all! I’m still at Sea Ranch with my family but Kyle, Leo, and Jeffrey went home yesterday and our field work is done! For a while I’ve been meaning to upload a “day in the life of” type post where I describe one of our normal days, so here it is even if it is a little late!
Most days we woke up at 6:00 AM, got organized, ate some breakfast (below is a morning bun from Two Fish Bakery, a treat my dad got us while he was visiting!), and headed out to Gualala Point Island (also below).
This is me entering data on the Nest Survey form.
After GPI we headed back home for a few hours that we mostly used on catching up with data entry (seen above) or other work like keeping the log (seen below).
After some lunch it was time for our PECO study or BLOY study depending on the day. Kyle and his BLOY site are featured below:
(Even on cold, overcast days it’s easy to get sunburnt, hence the umbrella!)
After our afternoon studies we had more time to work on data entry or other projects. I walked to my parents house one evening to check on the house and my pet rat Glenn and took the above picture of the evening sun.
Then dinner! (Above is Jeffrey’s tater tots and sloppy joes.)
Then a bit of cleaning up and potentially some free time before bed!
Because this is probably my last blog post for this project I wanted to throw in some photos from the last few weeks I never got to post:
Here’s Kyle and Leo in the recording studio from when we were interviewed for the local radio station!
Here’s a young rubber boa (notice the tail is stubby to look like its head) that we saw on a hike with my dad!
And here’s a selfie from our last day out in the field! (We’re in front of GPI even though you can’t see it!)
Lastly I wanted to thank my fellow students, Leo, Kyle, and Jeffrey, for being great to work with and entertaining in our free time. The four of us would like to thank all the wonderful people who made this summer amazing and a great learning opportunity, including everyone from the Sea Ranch Task Force, the BLM, and the Madrone Audubon Society who made this project possible. Thank you to my parents Liz Keene and Dale McDuffie as well as Dibby Tyler for graciously housing us, even in the peril of their homes! Thank you for the team from UC Santa Cruz for the opportunity to help with an intertidal survey and to Doug Forsell for taking us along on the fascinating search for marbled murrelets! Also to Molly Engelbrecht and others at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory for organizing a fantastic tour of the premises and a taste of grad school!
Finally thank you to the Diane and Bryant Hichwa for many dinners and the use of their home, computers, scanners, and wifi (as well as their loving dog Bridget!); Diane was an immense help/expert in our project and a great mentor along the way! Jim Weigand also made time in his busy schedule to be an inspiring mentor and help in numerous ways and of course Nina Karnovsky was, as always, an invaluable adviser in all things! Thank you all for making this summer an incredible experience!