California Brown Pelicans Die; We Don't Know Why
Brown pelicans are dropping like flies, but there are no answers as to why. Here in Ventura County, we're all intuitively convinced that it's an environmental issue, but no one has been able to pinpoint the cause.
Gary Langham's editorial today pinpoints the heartbreaking truth:
Which brings us back to a discussion of the precarious nature of the coastal ecosystem itself, and the continued threats that species like the brown pelican face every day. Even though its numbers have rebounded, its breeding grounds face near constant threat from human activity, particularly in the form of development and pollution. Moreover, the brown pelican needs fish to survive, which links the species to the continued health of marine fisheries.
When something is wrong in the environment, it is often the birds that are the first to tell us.
I have been photographing the pelicans off the Ventura County coast for years. This is the first year where I have seen so many so close into the shore, and also the first year that I've seen so many die.
Whether it's the strange weather pattern we're in, some unknown toxin or bacteria, or other poison, I hope the cause is discovered and remedied soon. The pelicans were nearly wiped out by the DDT spraying in the 60's and have just come back to unendangered species status.
There is nothing more majestic than a pelican in a full dive toward the waves at sunset. May they dive long after I am no longer here to photograph them.