Every summer, thousands of California Brown Pelicans migrate north to the San Francisco Bay area from breeding sites on the Channel Islands and Mexico. As many as 8,000 have been counted on their favorite resting site in the Bay on the isolated breakwater barrier at Alameda Point, known as Breakwater Island or the outer rock wall.
From a distance, the birds blend into the alternating dark and light background of the rocks. A July 22, 2022, kayak excursion to the area provided a telephoto opportunity to share the colors, character, and peaceful demeanor of these iconic birds.
Below is a photo gallery showing some of the thousands that were on the north side of the rock wall that day.
Bottlenose dolphins do not usually come to mind when thinking of wildlife at Alameda Point. In fact, only three have been observed there in recent years, and those sightings were from canoes and kayaks. But on July 24, two more dolphins were observed with two regulars meandering around next to Breakwater Island. The standalone rock wall, or breakwater, is visible from Pier 3 where the USS Hornet Museum is berthed.
Conservation of wildlife isn’t just important at Crab Cove
Visitors flock to Crab Cove, a State Marine Conservation Area, to learn about and experience the Bay’s sea dwellers. The educational lessons at the Crab Cove Visitor Center are equally relevant throughout the waterway south of the USS Hornet at Alameda Point where even more creatures thrive in relative obscurity.
The area encompasses an interconnected web of vegetation, birds, seals, fish, mollusks, crustaceans and worms. Ghost shrimp, bat rays, leopard sharks, striped crabs, mussels, California sea hares and fish with light-emitting diodes are just a sampling. A 36-foot-wide rock wall, known as a breakwater and built by the Navy in 1945, forms the mile-long southern boundary.
Breakwater Island runs along the south side of the Alameda Point Channel. It was officially transferred from the Navy to the City of Alameda in June of 2013. It is the largest night roosting site for California brown pelicans in San Francisco Bay. During the warm months, hundreds of pelicans can be seen on the breakwater. An early September kayak trip past Breakwater Island found their numbers down to a few dozen, most likely due to good fishing elsewhere in the Bay Area. By December most of the pelicans will have migrated south to places such as the Channel Islandswhere they nest.