OC's Brown Pelicans No Longer Endangered. Oh, Really?

brown-pelican_uci.jpg
UCI Biology Department
A brown pelican acts all pelecanus occidentalis-y along our coast.

​A neighbor of yours is getting either an assist or a death sentence from the federal government.

Where's your teabagger now, brown pelican?

The federal government has announced that pelecanus occidentalis, as the eggheads call brown pelicans, will be removed from the endangered species list. Their numbers, which included among them the subspecies known as the California brown pelican, had plummeted due to exposure to DDT, but they have bounced back with the pesticide's ban in 1972.

Some environmentalists are not convinced brown pelicans are adequately safe yet, however. The Center for Biological Diversity prefers that brown pelican populations on the western Gulf Coast and Caribbean remain on the list because of vulnerability to climate change and hurricanes, environment editor Pat Brennan reports on the Orange County Register GreenOC blog.

And don't forget these Orange County threats: increasing instances of red tide from algae blooms, which produce domoic acid that can cause seizures and illness in many life forms, from humans to seabirds; oil spills, such as the granddaddy of 'em all along Huntington Beach's shore in 1990, when sensitive habitat was infected in Upper Newport Bay, the Santa Ana River mouth, the Seal Beach National Ecological Reserve and the Bolsa Chica wetlands where many brown pelicans frolic; El Nino conditions, which result in drastic reductions in the food pelicans count on to survive; and, of course, the knuckleheads who mutilate pelicans for kicks, to protect their fishing lines or because their dog Sam told them to.

But other than those and any other dangers that may escape me at the moment, surely our pelecanus occidentalis buddies are doing just fine.

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