The Awkward Dive of the Brown Pelican

By David Powdrell

So here’s the deal…One of my favorite pastimes is sitting on the Carpinteria Bluffs in late afternoons to watch the pelicans diving for their dinner. Prosecco in one hand. Camera in the other typically. The pelicans were in full force this evening, Thanksgiving 2022.

When dining, the pelicans come in hot from about 30 feet high, then twist, turn, and contort mid-air with the target fish keenly in their sight. WHAM! They hit the water hard. Upon impact, the gular pouches expand like a net. They drain the 2-3 gallons of water taken in at impact, then dine on their catch. 

Their dives are definitely not the elegant Greg Louganis style dive, but rather a twisted dive that Will Farrell or Jack Black might do. As awkward as Brown Pelicans might look, however, they are incredibly successful at fishing. 

Just thought I’d share these images in light of the Edhat article dated May 18th addressing the unusually high influx of brown pelican patients rescued and brought into the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. I hope that the matter has been resolved. From what little I saw this evening; the Brown Pelicans were abundant and vibrant and well fed.   

Full disclosure: These images were taken a few years ago. I focused on Thanksgiving dinner with my sweetie on the beach tonight.



Written by bigwavedave

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