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Press Releases

Apr. 13, 2010

Mary Jane Schramm
415-561-6622 ext. 205

Sarah Marquis

NOAA's Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Urges Boaters, Paddlers and Pilots
to Avoid Disturbing Seabirds

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 Pt. Reyes and the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco, the Farallone Islands offshore, and Devil's Slide Rock to the south.

Since 2005, the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary has worked with state, federal and local agencies and other partners in a comprehensive effort to protect seabirds along the north-central California coast. The Seabird Protection Network was established as a regional program for coordinated seabird colony management and conservation, from Point Sur near Monterey, to Point Reyes north of San Francisco. In 2009, the network expanded into a statewide strategic partnership. It is funded by oil spill restoration appropriations.

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."

The sanctuary will provide information and tips for saving seabird colonies during air shows, boat shows and festivals. Coastal users can also download maps of sensitive areas and overflight information here.

Designated in 1981, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses nearly 1,300 square miles of ocean and coastal waters beyond San Francisco's Golden Gate. The sanctuary supports the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States, and other species such as giant whales and white sharks.

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On the Web:

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association

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