Refugio pelican update

As many of you know, the OWCN is thrilled to be conducting a post-release monitoring study on some of the oiled pelicans from the 2015 Refugio spill in Santa Barbara. Working with Dr. Pat Jodice from USGS (that’s the US Geological Survey) and Clemson University, we outfitted 12 oiled pelicans and 8 control pelicans with satellite transmitters so that we could track their movements and compare survival and behavior between oiled and control birds. Such studies are critically important for improving capture and rehabilitation techniques, understanding the effect of oil spills on populations, and for demonstrating the value of rehabilitation.


As you can see, we’ve got birds from Oregon to Baja California! Some of these pelicans have traveled well over 5000 kilometers since release.

It may be difficult to interpret this map, so I thought I’d give you a little summary. Three birds are hanging out in southern Oregon or the Oregon/California border. Another two birds are in Monterey Bay, and two more are at Morro Bay. One pelican is at Gaviota, and five are in the Ventura/Channel Islands area. Three are in the greater San Diego area, and three are in Mexico — one near Ensenada, one in the Gulf of California, and one on the east side of the Gulf of California.

Pretty amazing, huh? We certainly think so! I’ll be posting a map every few weeks, but if you want to follow the birds yourself, go to this link.

(I know, it’s called Atlantic seabirds, and these are clearly Pacific seabirds . . . . long story but try to ignore it!)

The rehabilitated pelicans from the spill are banded with metal federal bands as well as large green bands. If you happen to see a green-banded pelican, PLEASE let us know!! Report them here.

If you happen to see a blue-banded pelican, report it here.

Sorry for the long post, but I really hope you get as much of a thrill from seeing these maps as we do!


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