"The Farallon Islands: Forty Years Later � A Conservation Success Story"
Article by Kate Marianchild
"Ten thousand years ago, Mother Earth was shivering through the last
major ice age. The world's oceans were as much as 330 feet lower and
the polar ice masses extended much closer to the equator. The west
coast of California extended 35 miles west of its present day
location. At the edge of this coastline were foothills similar to Mt.
Tamalpais. The ice began to melt, the water began to rise, and those
little foothills became the isolated orphans that we now call the
Comprised of seven major islands jutting from the Pacific Ocean, the
Farallon Islands add up to 211 barren and largely uninhabitable acres
� uninhabitable to humans, that is! Birds and marine mammals see
things differently. The islands, which are set in the midst of one of
the world's most biologically diverse environments, have been home to
as many as 400,000 seabirds during a single breeding season � the
largest colony of breeding seabirds in the contiguous United States.
Six species of marine mammals also haul out on the islands to breed,
and 36 species of marine mammals feed in the surrounding waters,
including the largest population of whales found anywhere on earth.
Great White Sharks are common in the nearby waters, probably due to
the large populations of seals and sea lions.
What makes these islands and the waters that bathe them so rich in
animal life? Ron LeValley, biologist and photographer extraordinaire,
will answer that question and more during a slide lecture on
Thursday, November 20 at 7 p.m. at the Ukiah Civic Center. LeValley
was one of the first biologists to study wildlife on the islands
after a research station was established there in 1968. He has
visited and worked on the islands several times since, including for
two weeks this past summer, and will discuss and illustrate the
changes he has seen over 40 years.
The wildlife of the Farrallones was subjected to heavy predation by
humans between 1810 and 1889 � originally for Northern Fur Seals and
later, during the Gold Rush, for seabird eggs. The islands are now a
shining example of successful conservation policies � efforts that
began with Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 and culminated with the protection
of waters surrounding the islands in 1981. Conservationists and the
general public alike were ecstatic when, in 1996, the first Northern
Fur Seal pup was born on the islands after an absence of 150 years.
Ron LeValley is founder and Senior Biologist of Mad River Biologists,
a biological consulting firm in Arcata California. Best known for his
work on the identification and distribution of Pacific Coast birds
and for his CD's of bird songs, Ron also has a broad understanding
plants and animals in general. One of his outstanding attributes is
his enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge with others. As a
professional photographer, Ron has compiled over 70,000 wildlife
photographs for use in presentations and publications. He is also a
founding member of the Mendocino Coast Photographer Guild and Gallery
in Fort Bragg, where his photographic art can be seen.
This Peregrine Audubon presentation is free to the public, though
donations will be happily accepted. To join Peregrine Audubon Society
and receive a newsletter with regular announcements about programs
and field trips, please send $15 to PAS, P.O. Box 311, Ukiah, CA
95482. For more information and directions go to
*From article by Danny Sedevic at http://www.farallones.org/
farallonislands.php. Permission to quote granted by Bob Wilson,
interim director of Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association.
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