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Subscriber Comments for
The Pelican Surfer Theory

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 182011 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 08:52 AM

So true- They seem to drop into the wave, ride the updraft created by the swell, and then kick out using the offspray to repeat the cycle....even on solid 10 foot faces in northern Calif., there are some real chargers...just like humans!!!


 COMMENT 182025 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 09:48 AM

This is absolutely beautiful...the photographs and the theory. I say you're on to something!


 COMMENT 182031 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 10:07 AM

Lovely pictures, thanks for them! With a 6 or 7-foot wingspan, they are wonderful surfers.


 COMMENT 182032 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 10:09 AM

Doesn't seem an unusual theory at all! I've always admired pelicans and the way they 'surf' the waves. They have the best of land, sea and air!

Great photos.


 COMMENT 182091 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 01:23 PM

You have my vote for picture of the day. Love the 2 birds and 1 surfer. Great photo!


 COMMENT 182097 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 01:48 PM

They are called Hu'...[Hew] & are considered as the Condor of the sea,for their wisdom of the ocean.


 COMMENT 182120 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 03:20 PM

Thanks for putting into words what we have thought many times over. Very cool.


 COMMENT 182137 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 04:46 PM

2birds1surfer looks like my buddy Jon C on his Hobie StepDeck. Go Jon, Big Red here.


 CEES helpful negative off topic

2011-06-11 09:58 PM

Beautiful images and thoughts...thanks.


 COMMENT 182195P helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 02:12 AM

They are gliding what is called "ground effect". The air pressure between their wings and the water's surface provides lift separate from the lift provided by their airfoils, i.e. wings.

They take advantage of the waves' added height which gives ground effect a few feet higher up, and then, as the wave drops, or they pass it, they gain groundspeed in the descent and again enter ground effect.

It may be fun for them, but also preserves precious energy in between successful hunts. One could query whether they lose energy climbing above the wave, but it seems to me that with offshore winds, there'd be an added gust to lift them up the face and in situations where they are coasting along at just the spot where the wave rises, the ride up the ground effect as described above.


 POWDRELL helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 06:31 AM

Excellent explanation of "ground effect", 182195. I'd never heard of it before. Thank you. If you're interested, there's more on ground effect at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_effect_in_aircraft
Thanks again.


 COMMENT 182203 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 06:56 AM

I like these!


 COMMENT 182195P helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 08:19 AM

Thanks, Dave. I'm the one who brought up ground effect. Ys, it is very interesting and is just one of those neat things one learns when learning about flying that changes how one views the everyday world.

For kicks, here is a link I found where a scientist studies brown pelicans formation flying in ground effect. Isn't th Internet still amazing! He wrote it in 1987, and I'm sure never knew that one day millions would be able to read it at the electro ic "library" anywhere in the world.



 COMMENT 182234 helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 08:41 AM

Last Fall in La Jolla, I saw a peregrine falcon try to snatch a fish in front of a breaking wave. The falcon mistimed his dive and accidentally got caught by the whitewater and ended up bodysurfing the wave for a 20 yards or so, before he was able to take off and fly away. If pelicans are soul surfers, I guess this falcon was a gremmie or a kook. It was a once in a lifetime sight.


 COMMENT 182246P helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 09:15 AM

234--those once-in-a-lifetime animal sightings are jewels in the crown of life, aren't they? They sparkle in memory forever!
Thanks for sharing yours.


 COMMENT 182263P helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 09:48 AM

182097 - in what language are they called "Hu"? and considered condors of the sea, Chumash?

And 182225P - thanks for sharing that article!!!!!! I've watched pelicans for years and figured it was something like that but had never read an analysis. Fascinating!


 POWDRELL helpful negative off topic

2011-06-12 10:37 AM

182225, very cool article at link specific to brown pelicans and ground effect.

Interesting fact that "birds which fly close to ocean surfaces often glide without loss of altitude".

I kept scanning for references to the possibility that pelicans might be surfers of a different life, but no such luck. :-)

Thanks again for the great reference material.


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