Sunday, November 7, 2010

Farallon Islands Sailing Trip

At 7AM in the morning, we sailed 28 miles off the coast of San Francisco to the Farallon Islands carrying two staff members of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO), Keith (owner of the boat), two of his friends and me.

Louisa's Photos
My friend Keith (above in red) volunteers his time, boat J-130, and all the gas to transport supplies and PRBO staff to the Farallon Islands. This is us sailing out of the bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Golden Gate Bridge with sunrising in the east.

From Louisa's Photos of Farallon Islands - 2010
Once at the island, we had to off-load all the supplies to a dinghy.

Louisa's From Farallon Islands - 2010
The only way on and off the Farallon Island is by crane. The crane on the right of this picture lifts the dingy with passengers and supplies out of the water and on to the island. It was really cool to experience and kind of scary too.
If you'd like to see video of the dingy and the crane going in and out of the ocean, Click on these two links to see my YouTube videos:
-- Dingy at Farallon Island (45 seconds)
-- People in the dingy and in the air at Farallon Islands (1 minute)

From Farallon Islands - 2010
As you may or may not know, the Farallon Islands are closed to the public. This walking tour we are on is a once in a life time opportunity to see the island first hand!  Currently the islands are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and PRBO Conservation Science.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Walking from the crane to the PRBO quarters - do not step off the wooden path, there are birds nest everywhere.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Very rustic quaters for the staff, but at least they have a gas stove.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Walking along the wooden path on our tour, here is a picture of the outside of the staff quarters. They are weathered from the conditions and need a little TLC.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Group photo of our Team. I'm in the white top and yellow pants

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Hiking up to the lighthouse - stopping to take a look at some of the birds and make some photos.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
It's a long way down - this is where we got to see a Gray Whale and California Seals.

Louisa's photos Farallon Islands - 2010
View of the staff quarters from the Lighthouse

From Farallon Islands - 2010
We got to see a playful bunch of seals splashing around in the ocean. I could imagine the soundtrack for the movie Jaws in the background and was just waiting for a great white shark to jump out at any moment.

Video of our guide talking about seals (somewhat hard to hear audio)

From Louisa's Farallon Islands photos - 2010
More photos from the Farallon Islands - our private walking tour.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
The only Great White Shark we got to see was a toy one at the quarters.

Truly a magical day. We did see some gray whales, endangered birds, seals, massive jellies in the water. The elephant seals attract a large population of Great White Sharks to the islands. In 1970 Farallon biologists witnessed their first shark attack, on a Steller’s sea lion. During the next fifteen years, more than one hundred attacks on seals and sea lions were observed at close range. By the year 2000, biologists were logging almost eighty attacks in a single season. CHOMP!

Video of our guide talking about the Brown House Mouse problem on the island and some solutions to fix the overpopulation of mice - Yuck. The mice attract hungry migratory burrowing owls. I guess this is not a good thing?! They (mice) eat a rare gray seabird called the Ashy Storm-petrel. Other animals effected by the mice are the Farallon arboreal salamander and cave cricket, only found on the Farallone Islands.

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Sailing back, we took PRBO crew members back to stateside

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Containers with unwanted trash

From Farallon Islands - 2010
I got to sail! Was really beautiful out in the Pacific Ocean

From Farallon Islands - 2010
Was a long day, but nothing like seeing the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise (this was taking in the AM)

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