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    Posted August 24, 2012 by
    gailpowell
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    PLAYFUL PELICANS of SAN DIEGO BAY

     

    I (vaguely) remember the days when pelicans were considered an endangered species due to DDT pesticide poisoning. For a while, back there in the late 1970's. the marine birds, known as "the Captains of the Sea," nearly disappeared.

     

    According to www.farallones.net, "For much of the twentieth century, pelicans were seen as competition for fishermen and as a result of their prized feathers, they were hunted persistently. This, combined with indirect pesticide poisoning from human use of DDT, dropped the population down to the point where it was listed as endangered in 1970. " DDT that lingered in the environment had the effect of softening the shells of the bird's eggs. Brown pelicans warm their eggs by covering them with their webbed feet. The parent birds ended up, inadvertently, crushing their own young in the nest. Dangerous DDT nearly obliterated these beautiful birds.

     

    However, thanks to the University of Tampa’s research into DDT poisoning, there was found to be a conclusive, scientific link between usage of DDT and environmental damage to bird life. DDT was banned in Florida first and then later, the rest of the United States followed. Since then, slowly over time, the pelican’s breeding populations have since bounced back vigorously. Now it is not unusual to see scores of brown pelicans along the shoreline of San Diego, flying in their "V" formations.

     

    Lucky for me, I was along San Diego Bay recently, during a spell of very hot weather, and was completely charmed by a lively brown pelican family that stopped for a visit very close by me. From the looks of it, I spied a very large male daddy pelican, a curious and protective mother, and two downy-soft and light feathered juveniles. Daddy jumped on a piece of wooden plank sticking out of the Bay and preened his feathers while mother pelican watched me click away with my handy camera.

     

    The two newbie juveniles just hung around mom and dad and looked cute. For about 15 minutes or so, I was utterly taken with these attractive marine feathered friends.

     

    The Farallones website notes that "Of the eight species of pelicans in the world, only one, the brown pelican, is strictly coastal."

     

    The brown pelican is also the smallest pelican species, ranging from 6 to 12 pounds, although they look plenty big to me. The brown pelican’s large bill is useful to feed on fish by plunge diving. The birds will literally, dive straight into the water to catch their prey, which includes small schooling fish, like herring and minnows. The audacious birds are also adept at following the fishing boats back into the harbor to enjoy scraps and leftovers that the fisherman dispose of overboard.

     

    Watching the brown pelicans was wonderful .My heart soars to realize that this is one endangered population that was brought back from the brink and is doing just fine. Our future generations will also be able to enjoy the grandeur and grace of the mighty pelicans. This iconic representative of the sea made me appreciate them even more by hanging out for a while at the beach with me.

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