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~  Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log

PFIC Get-Together, Goleta Pier,  July 2003.  Photo credit:  Rich Reano, webmaster,
Volunteer Time:
2006 (total):  103 days, 169 hours 
2007 (total):  238 days, 425.75 hours 
2008 (total):  254 days, 641.85 hours

December 17th, 2008:

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.

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 Pier.

December 19th, 2008:

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.

December 20th, 2008:
Checked 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.

December 22nd, 2008:
This 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.

December 30th, 2008:

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. 
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