Goleta Pier Log
For a couple of years now I have been noticing an increasing number
of apparent bird bones scattered overnight on the outer third of the Pier.
At first I assumed they were just carelessly discarded left-overs by the
late night anglers but now I am not so sure.
2006 (total): 103 days, 169 hours
2007 (total): 238 days, 425.75 hours
2008 (total): 254 days, 641.85 hours
For the past several days the number of overnight anglers has
been reduced considerably due to the inclement weather and yet there has
been no reduction in the number of bones. Looking closely at the above
picture you can see what appears to be a fast food wrapper. These yellow
wrappers are almost always associated on the Pier with a small pile of
bones and appear to have passed through a bird's digestive system. I wonder
if the real source of these bones might be an uncovered commercial dumpster
outside one or more local fast food outlets?
I do know that the most excessive guano deposits are on that
section of the Pier where these bones are found. Hopefully we will
be able to locate and address the feeding source and thus maintain a cleaner
Acting on a hunch I stopped by El Pollo Loco in Goleta today to
order chicken take-out with corn tortillas. As I remembered from
previous visits the tortillas came in a yellow plastic wrapper similar
to the wrapper shown in the original photo (on the left) in the above side
by side comparison.
From the condition of the original bones and wrapper it appears
that they had passed through a bird's digestive system which would explain
why the leftovers from today's lunch are somewhat different in color.
Since the restaurant's dumpster was tightly closed and contained
no leftover chicken it would appear that the the bones I'm finding were
actually discarded and consumed on the Pier. Tomorrow I will check the
trash cans in that area of the Pier to see if there are any El Pollo take-out
bags. If so then the likely culprits are overnight anglers.
the trash cans on the Pier this morning for evidence of fast food take-out
containers and found absolutely nothing.
The trash cans had been emptied yesterday so that is pretty good
evidence that anglers are not purchasing food to go and feeding it to the
birds. And yet the last third of the Pier was covered again with
bones and bags.
Took another and more closer look at the plastic bags mentioned
previously as associated with the chicken bone deposits.
As this picture shows there are a varitey of zip and non-zip
lock types ... all of them showing signs of having been partially digested
by the birds.
An acquaintance from UCSB said that the material would not actually
pass all the way through the bird's digestive tract but would be rejected
after the initial digestion in the form of 'casts' which are what we are
finding on the Pier.
One disturbing deposit consisted of bones and shards of broken
glass still encased in a plastic bag ... I've asked selected anglers to
keep on eye on that end of the Pier to see if someone is intentionally
preparing a potentially lethal package and feeding it to the birds.
morning I found this Pelican hunkered down on the Pier deck in the small
opening between the mid-pier power panel and porta-potty. It was
listless and unresponsive but did not appear to have any physical damage.
I called June Taylor at the Wildlife Care Network facilities
in the foothills behind Goleta for advice. She said her group has
been recovering many Pelicans recently who appear to be emaciated from
lack of food and suggested I retrieve it for pickup.
With the help of the Park Host, Doug Wheeler, the bird was picked
up and brought to the foot of the Pier where we were met by two volunteers
from the WCN who took it up to June's for observation, treatment and recovery.
This year we have seen more pelicans here at Goleta than we have
seen in the past 10 years or so. At any given time there will be
100-200 or more birds on the beach and at the mouth of the Slough. We are
working with the anglers here to insure that all baits and foodstuffs are
covered to discourage birds from frequenting the Pier.
The Angler Center also provides a large hoop net to be used to
lift caught birds out of the water rather than rely on the previous practice
of hoisting the entangled seabirds by hook and line. The County has
indicated that they will prepare appropriate signage discouraging visitors
from feeding the birds as well.
Later: Just received a phone call from June Taylor reporting
the Pelican rescued this morning has died. She said it was a juvenile
bird and extremely emaciated. She speculated that the recent decrease in
baitfish in the area could be contributory in that there may be more birds
than can be supported. She also said that she has been receiving birds
all up and down the Santa Barbara coastline in the same condition including
some older birds.
What a depressing way to end the year! I found these videos
posted on YouTube this morning
of a group of young kids being encouraged by an adult to perform
their 'first Pier jumps'
off of Goleta Pier. They all jumped from the hoist area which
is clearly posted with a sign indicating that jumping from the Pier is
a violation of Santa Barbara County Code 26-82.
And who was the adult who posted the
videos on YouTube? See for yourself -
One would hope that someone who is 61 years old would have more
common sense than to purposely endanger these four young people for the
sole purpose of capturing the exploit for posterity. I
wonder if the children's parents were aware ... or even cared.