Seasons in the Sea - A month-by-month guide to Central California sea life

Section contents:

Cormorants: Image credit-Mary Hollinger - NOAA


in September

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Diver-at-work symbol (c) Kim Fulton-Bennett This page under construction.
Here are some of the topics that will be covered in this chapter. More text and images will eventually be added to this section. Thank you for your patience.

Seabird events in September:

  • In August and September, vast flocks of sooty shearwaters move close to shore to feed on schools of anchovies, especially in the inner parts of Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones. Their feeding frenzies often attract other diving birds, including pelicans, cormorants, gulls, and alcids, such as murres and murrelets. During their summers on the California coast, sooty shearwaters stock up on food, increasing their body weights by up to 40 percent. They will need this food when they fly across the Pacific to their nesting areas in New Zealand in early October. A few shearwater will stay on the Central Coast until November or even December.
  • In addition to sooty shearwaters, you may occasionally see pink-footed shearwaters, flesh-footed shearwaters, Buller's shearwaters, and (in warm-water years) black-vented shearwaters in Monterey Bay during September.
  • California gulls, short-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris), and Northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) begin to show up in Monterey Bay in September, and may stay through the winter.
  • Common murres leave breeding colonies (e.g. the Farallones) to forage, along with their young, over the coastal waters.
  • Marbled murrelets can be seen in the daytime in protected nearshore waters after nesting in the tops of first-growth fir trees in the coastal mountains during the summer (and feeding only at night).
  • Red phalaropes reach peak abundance in nearshore waters and estuaries during September.
  • A wide variety of open-ocean birds migrate southward along the Central Coast in September,including Sabine's gulls, Arctic gulls, ashy storm petrels, black storm petrels, Wilson's petrels, fork-tailed petrels, least storm petrels, South Polar skuas, pomarine jaegers, parasitic jaegers, and long-tailed jaegers (which typically leave by the end of the month). A number of these birds live and migrate offshore and are seldom seen near the coast.
  • Shorebirds migrate southward along the Central Coast after breeding in Alaska, the Arctic, and the northern plains. Many of these birds, including sandpipers, plovers, willets, godwits, grebes, loons, turnstones, surf birds, and California gulls, will spend the winter on the Central Coast.
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