15 pelicans dead, dozens injured in Avila Beach

August 26, 2011


In what experts are calling a feeding frenzy, at least 15 Brown Pelicans have died and dozens have injured themselves in the excitement of finding an unusual amount of fish in the San Luis Harbor in Avila Beach.

The popular birds, whose wing spans can reach 8 feet, dramatically dive into ocean waters to scoop up fish they spot from above. The injured pelicans appear to be mostly juveniles, who during their dives, clip rocks near the rocky waters edge where large numbers of anchovies have gathered, said San Luis Obispo Harbor District Manager Steve McGrath.

Dozens of Pelicans, some with mangled wings or bloody chests, have congregated at Port San Luis to partake of the feast. Volunteers from Pacific Wildlife Care were in Avila Beach on Thursday morning collecting some of the bloody birds.

However, by late afternoon, at least six more injured pelicans were perched on the rocks adjacent to the pier. Dozens of young pelicans, with their abdomens extended from the banquet, were so lethargic that young children on the pier could actually pet the majestic animals.

“I have seen an abundance of dead pelicans in the past two weeks, more than I have ever seen before,”  said Kurt Miller, an employee of Patriot Sport Fishing Tackle and Bait since 1986. “The bloody pelicans, I have never seen before. And some are acting very lethargic.





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Ok, so it’s looking like the furbags are putting the chew on your Pelicans. In an effort to reach across the aisle to make you feel better, what do you say you hop on my 24′ offshore boat with me. I’ve got a couple paint ball guns and we can can go out and haze those damned furbags that are getting to your birds. USFWS says it’s legal so we might as well have some fun with it.

“Feeding causes injuries and harmful interactions between wildlife species.

For instance, when fishing operations discard leftover offal into the ocean after fish cleaning, it forces confrontations between species who otherwise would not interact. Suddenly, pelicans, who dive for fish near the surface of the water, and harbor seals, who forage for food in the water column and near the ocean floor, are forced to compete for food in the same area, causing injuries which otherwise would not occur. Also, while many marine mammals and birds eat whole fish, the skin and bones of fish by itself is not easily digestible, has little caloric value, and can cause choking and injuries. Fish bones can be very sharp, and Wildlife Care volunteers have had to remove many fish skeletons from the delicate pouches and throats of pelicans whose mouths are adapted to swallow whole fish, not crunch bones. Punctures and lacerations are easily infected, causing a slow death when animals cannot forage or swallow.”

Remember: when people and wildlife interact, wildlife often ends up losing. Always enjoy wildlife from a distance!

I rest my case, think what you want, I have been commercial fishing (live) from 92-2000 and grew up in Avila, it is just as shocking to me as it is to you. Sorry I seem like a nut, I just want to find out what happened, I too have witnessed many a pelican eat a fish carcasses, I am just saying , to big to sharp and to many or maybe like this article I found on the net, the seals got the birds, makes sense.

Peace between side show and I , his words,”Ok, so it’s looking like the furbags are putting the chew on your Pelicans. In an effort to reach across the aisle to make you feel better, what do you say you hop on my 24′ offshore boat with me. I’ve got a couple paint ball guns and we can can go out and haze those damned furbags that are getting to your birds. USFWS says it’s legal so we might as well have some fun with it.”

I’d rather just fish, but we finally agree, after talking with Tom Karshner the last Harbor Commissioner, he told me of watch a sea lion hold a pelican under water until it drown, if they could do that they could surely bite the fileted fish right out of the pelicans necks, I now feel this is what is really going on, under water where no one could see or video.

I think I went off on what my friend told me, but I bet the furbags hit the birds right after the filets were fed to them, and I love to go fish, your boat or mine, serious get my number from Karen, you probably know me I fish out of Morro bay too. P.S. the last time I fished Avila I was mobbed by giant pelicans like never before, I gave the biggest one some belly meat and a small fish filet, but I could not hand him that 6lb red fileted carcass, I just couldn’t do it, and had planned too, like test the theory? I put it in the trash can.

I found a intact sea lion skeleton bit in half by a great white or other very large shark, the teeth in the skull were in perfect condition and razor sharp, I surf with these things all the time and was shocked to find canines just like a wolf, very sharp, just like the vet described, teeth are very sharp and capable of ripping open the birds chest’s with a surgeon’s precision.

I don’t know but I think it makes sense that the juvenile pelican’s and a few adults are clipping rock’s. The fish are congregating by the rocks for protection and when the birds dive for the fish they clip their chest or shoulders against protruding rocks that are slightly submerged. Remember that it isn’t only injury to the birds chests but we are all seeing many broken wings. Karen’s suggestion sounds sensible especially with so many fish and birds out there this year, it’s a feeding frenzy.

That just seems to make more sense than to believe that the birds are harming themselves and I certainly don’t believe that these injuries are being delivered by fishermen. Maybe a few pelicans get hit in the chest by a boat occasionally but if the fisherman were out to harm them, they would just shoot the fat, slow moving birds. They wouldn’t be chasing after them and hacking the birds chest up.

This is straight out of how to filet a fish on the net, anyone can find this info,

“If you’re going to throw the fish carcass into the bay (which is just fine – lot’s of things are just dying to munch on those great bones), make sure you poke the eyes to remove the fluid. Otherwise the fish will float to the surface.

Also, please break or cut up the carcass into several pieces. If a pelican gets one of these intact bony structures stuck in its pouch, it could very well be seriously injured or kill the hapless bird.”

How to filet a fish , thank you.

My friend, told me of pelicans swallowing giant fish head/carcases and the dead fish or what was left of them after the human aspect of this scenario had removed 95% of the meat, my friend on the phone told me he was sure these pelicans were not going to live, huge fileted fish stuck in there throat, okay mystery.

Cindy I guess this is why they have a law against feeding brown pelicans in Florida, we have gone from Rocks, to Seals< to self -destruction, to self mutilation, from irritations due to bones, we will find out, I am thinking it is all and above, add pollution, weather conditions, some 2 cycle oil and they are in a bad way, I have not seen this kind of thing ever and grew up with my head in the sand.