Breakers In Fisherman's Bay / by Michael Johns

Twelve species of seabirds and five species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) use the exposed granitic outcroppings of the Farallon Islands as a place to breed. During the peak of the summer season, close to 250 thousand seabirds can be found on Southeast Farallon, in burrows, crevices, terraces, and cliffs throughout the island. Part of the reason the Farallones is teaming with marine life are the productive waters that surround the islands; productivity that is driven by strong northwest winds. Spring winds cause deep nutrient-rich water to well up to the sunlit surface waters, sparking massive phytoplankton blooms that support a diverse marine food web. Over the past few days, we've been experiencing those strong northwest winds out here, with sustained speeds of 35 knots and gusts of over 45! While the wind makes it difficult for us to conduct our work, it's essential for providing food for the seabirds we study. The photo of the islets in Fisherman's Bay above shows huge swells and foamy seas wrapping around Sugar Loaf on the right.