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Restoration Activities
Case: Montrose/PV Shelf, CA

Seabird Restoration:
Restore Seabirds to Santa Cruz Island


The goal of restoration efforts on Scorpion rock, Orizaba rock, and within sea caves surrounding Santa Cruz Island (SCI) is to restore seabird habitat by removing non-native vegetation, installing artificial nest boxes, and reducing human disturbance. Eggshell thinning caused by elevated levels of DDTs was documented in the eggs of Ashy storm petrels, California brown pelicans, Cassin’s auklets, double-crested cormorants, and Xantus’s murrelets in the Southern California Bight.

Restoration actions at Orizaba Rock and surrounding sea caves involve installing artificial nest sites for Ashy storm-petrels to prevent or reduce impacts from avian predation or human disturbance. Ashy storm-petrels are rare and endemic to California and northwestern Baja California, with a world population of less than 10,000 individuals. At SCI, certain offshore rocks (notably Orizaba Rock) and sea caves continue to host small nesting colonies. Nests are primarily found in rock crevices, under small rocks or boulders, under driftwood, or in open sites along cave walls. Much of the habitat available to storm-petrels is thus extremely fragile. Small colony sizes and fragile habitats make Ashy storm-petrels highly susceptible to natural or human impacts. Recorded vocalizations were used to attract Ashy storm-petrels to the artificial nests on Orizaba Rock.

Scorpion Rock is a small islet located off the northeast coast of SCI. Restoration efforts on Scorpion Rock are focused on nesting Cassin’s auklets. Natural Cassin’s auklet burrows are present in relatively small numbers on the rock, mainly due to the scarce vegetation and associated high rate of soil erosion. Restoration actions on Scorpion Rock will improve and enhance existing natural habitat for Cassin's auklets by restoring native vegetation, stabilizing soil to minimize erosion, and eradicating invasive, nonnative vegetation. Nest boxes were installed to provide a stable and secure nesting area for Cassin's auklets.

(Scorpion Rock Film)

Biological Monitoring

  • Biologists continued nest monitoring for Ashy storm-petrels at five locations on Santa Cruz Island including Orizaba Rock, and four sea caves.
  • Biologists continued monitoring and banding of Cassin’s auklets on Scorpion Rock and Prince Island.

Habitat Restoration

  • Biologists and volunteers planted 3,000 plants on Scorpion Rock in 2009 to augment the 2008 ouplanting effort. Site work such as removing non-native plants, soil stabilization, and vegetation mapping have been ongoing since 2007.
  • Fifty artificial nests sites were installed on Orizaba Rock and in Cavern Point Caves for Ashy storm-petrels and have hosted successful breeding pairs.
  • An audio system has been placed on Orizaba Rock to attract seabirds for the past two breeding seasons, and audio-visual assessments will begin in 2010.

Project Reports


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Video Transcript

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Logo - Montrose Settlement Restoration Program (MSRP) - Restoring Natural Resources Harmed by DDTs and PCBs

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