Watching The Sea / by Michael Johns

Well, I'm back on the Farallones for another seabird season, and so begins another series of stories from the field. I've decided this year to briefly describe all of the different projects we do out here during the summer. From simple tasks such as taking the weather, to complex tasks like keeping track of 400+ Cassin's auklet nest boxes. To kick off this series, I choose one of my favorite morning rituals, "sea watch". Every morning, the designated sea watch person (Katie in the case of the photo above) sets up a 50x spotting scope on the front porch of the PRBO House where we live, orients it southwest over the marine terrace, and watches the sea for a standard 5-minute period. The idea is to count any pelagic species other than the ones that breed on the island that pass through the fixed field of view, to get a sense of long-term changes in the timing and abundance of seabirds that use the waters around the Farallones.