Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sick From Salmon
By Michael

This poor guy may have had his fill of salmon
or other fish oils.
Our friends the Stewarts who live on Humboldt Bay told us that sick pelicans around them are exhibiting strange behavior, acting stupid. Dr. Stewart told me he saw a big brown pelican walking down the street like a dog. He showed me pelicans sitting on rooftops for hours alongside seagulls, something he hasn’t observed before. The posture of many pelicans is off, wings held at an odd angle while standing.

None of this is a mystery.

In the normal course of events, pelicans do not consume salmon. They eat sardines and other small schooling fish. They’ve even been known to eat small sea birds. Not salmon.

In the ocean outside of Humboldt Bay, salmon are jumping into fishing boats these days, filling quotas before the first beer is opened. Locals are out in all manner of small craft, in large numbers. But too many of these fishermen are dressing their catch aboard, throwing salmon remnants into the water, attracting gulls and hungry pelicans. Apparently, salmon isn’t good for pelicans.

Fish cleaning stations ashore are another pelican salmon source. At these stations there is such a concentration of salmon remnants that the oils of this oily fish are everywhere. Foraging pelicans are not only ingesting this oil, but getting it on their feathers. This compromises their natural waterproofing and insulation, leaving them exposed to the cold ocean water.
Word is reportedly getting out and fishermen are heeding posted signs about proper disposal of fish guts. Municipalities are shutting down cleaning stations with discharge pipes that go straight to the water. Online I learned that rescue centers are filled to capacity with ailing pelicans.

This flier looks fit.


  1. Great blog! Beautiful family! I will read around to see where you are now?!!

  2. Breaks my heart. Hb


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