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Publication Date

Fall 2014

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


James Harvey


foraging, satellite telemetry, seabirds, winds

Subject Areas



Marine predators forage in a heterogeneous landscape where prey patches are unevenly

distributed. Predators return to larger scale areas of consistent productivity such as the

California Current, and search at finer temporal and spatial scales to locate prey patches.

One of the most abundant avian marine predators in the California Current is the sooty

shearwater. Sooty shearwaters leave southern hemisphere islands at the end of the

breeding season in the southern autumn. They arrive in the California Current after

completing a trans-hemispheric migration, in need of replenishing body condition. Sooty

shearwaters are adapted for efficient flight, and their flight is highly correlated with

winds. Shearwaters in this study appeared to use winds opportunistically, and responded

by vacating foraging hotspots following a reversal in winds, often flying more

economically in a downwind direction. Shearwaters also used headwind and tailwind

flight much more frequently than expected. This was a result of constraints of a northsouth

oriented coastline, and available winds. Sooty shearwaters travelled synchronously

while foraging in the CC and when departing on the southern migration. The cue to

depart on the southern migration was likely a combination of factors of phenology, local

enhancement and body condition.