Seeking Salt Water- Why We Love The California Brown Pelican

Following the stateside adventures of the Surfability UK CIC coaches and elite surfers to La Jolla, California for the 2018 STANCE ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship in December, the team here at HQ have become quite fascinated with the California Brown Pelican.

After discovering that our very own longstanding coach, Toby Williams, has a previously undisclosed fear of pelicans, we have become more than curious about this particular aquatic bird!

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The Brown Pelican by Birder62

While smaller than it’s white counterpart, the Brown Pelican is still a big bird. Weighing in between 4 and 11 pounds, this water bird has an impressive wingspan of over 6ft.

Previously featured on the endangered species list, the Brown Pelican has made an impressive recovery and been de-listed following the ban of the pesticide DDT in 1972.

The Californian Brown Pelican primarily feeds off sardines, mackerel and anchovies. They breed in colonies using nests made of sticks at ground level and rarely stray far from the coast.

So far so good, we hear you say. Other than some seriously stinky fish breath, what could there be to fear about this particular sea bird? And the answer we think, is more about the way these big birds fish than what is on the menu, per say.

With incredibly keen eyesight, pelicans are able to swoop and dive steeply into the water to catch fish in their beaks. They are then returned to the surface by air cushions built into their skin.

Whether it’s concern for fast falling beaks coming your way in the line up or the beady watchful eye of a buoyant pelican slowly returning to the surface, we can see why a pelican might not be popular with surfers.

And a quick google search to see if Pelicans have been known to attack humans, while somewhat comedic in places, was definitely fruitful.

This delightful clip we found on YouTube features a feisty Pelican giving an Australian weatherman what for:

On a serious note though, wherever you plan to catch your waves, concern for the resident Pelicans should not stop you seeking your stoke. Unprovoked Pelican attacks do not seem to be a legitimate concern!

Feeling like you might be ready to make a splash and catch a wave? With indoor and outdoor sessions running with Surfability UK CIC this winter, there couldn’t be a better time to get in touch!

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