MMS Seabird Ecology Study 1985

Minerals Management Service

Dataset credit

Minerals Management Service


Primary contact Glenn Ford
Primary contact Janet Casey N/A
Data entry Benjamin Best Duke University



This dataset is from the California seabird ecology study studies: Seabird ecology study [birds and mammals] study code: SE, Contract number: 14-12-001-30183, Principal Investigator: Kenneth T. Briggs, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. Portions of this work were done by D. G. Ainley and others at Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Stinson Beach, CA, and by L. B. Spear and others at Science Applications International Corporation, Monterey, CA.

Time period: 1984 through 1987

Study area: Area of study included all waters of California, focusing on the continental shelf near large nesting colonies off Point St. George, in the Gulf of the Farallones, and in the Southern California Bight. Field studies were conducted from Monterey Bay to about Bodega Head.

Methodology: Surveys of seabird abundance and distribution were done by aircraft and by ship. Data collection protocols for aerial surveys were identical with those used for the Central and Northern California Marine Mammal and Seabird Surveys. Protocols for ship surveys were identical with those of the Marine Mammal and Seabird Studies of the Southern California Bight with the following exception: the searched strip extended 300 m at right-angle to the ship's heading, and observers recorded distance from the vessel in three equal zones of 100 m; sightings beyond were recorded as 'off-transect.' Four aerial surveys and three vessel surveys were conducted in the spring and summer of 1985.

Databases produced: Results of four aerial surveys and one ship survey are included in the database. All focus on the distribution and abundance of seabirds in waters from Monterey Bay to the Gulf of the Farallones in spring and summer of 1985.
Survey 601, March 12-13, 1985
Survey 602, March 21, 1985
Survey 603, May 10, 1985
Survey 604, May 27-28, 1985
Survey 703, May 31 to June 17, 1985

Effort data for aerial surveys consist of start-stop pairs of coordinates (date/time, latitude, and longitude); sightings have been assigned a position interpolated from the time of the observation. For ship data, the location of each sighting within 0.5 km was available in digital form (the center of a 1 km segment along the ship's track in which the sighting occurred).


To study the feeding and foraging ecology of seabirds nesting in California through:
1) Synthesis of the existing literature,
2) Analysis of unpublished data on diet, feeding behavior, and distribution of flocks,
3) Identification of data gaps, and
4) Conduct of additional studies to map seabird distribution and describe correlative oceanographic conditions.

Supplemental information

[2020-09-30] The following invalid species names were corrected according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Bonaparte's Gull: Larus philadelphia (176839) => Chroicocephalus philadelphia (824040)
Caspian Tern: Sterna caspia (176924) => Hydroprogne caspia (176935)
Larus sabini (176865) => Xema sabini (176866)
Larus tridactyla (176874) => Rissa tridactyla (176875)
Phalacrocorax olivaceus (174722) => Phalacrocorax brasilianus brasilianus (824220)


Briggs, K. T., D. G. Ainley, D. R. Carlson, D. B. Lewis, W. B. Tyler, L. B. Spear, and L. A. Ferris. 1987. Final Report: California seabird ecology study. Prepared by the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, for the Pacific OCS Region, Minerals Management Service, Contract No. 14-12-001-30183. vii and 153 pp.



This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
studyStudy code
platformPlatform code
on_On (Y) or off (N) effort
effdateeffort date
date_0Date in original format
dateDate of the observation
time_0Time in original format
timeTime of the observation
speciesSpecies name
species_codeSpecies code
numberGroup size
latLatitude in decimal degrees
lonLongitude in decimal degrees
widthWidth of the transect
newbornsNumber of calves
malesNumber of males
femalesNumber of females
group_Group size
behaviorBehavior code
altitudeAltitude in feet
perpdistdefinition not provided
reldirdefinition not provided
distcodedefinition not provided
weatherWeather code
cloudsCloud code
seastatusSea status
glaredirGlare direction
seatempSea temperature (-99: not available)
recordRecord No.
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
Marine mammals58
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species250
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1985-03-12
Date, End1985-05-28
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude36.05 - 38.13
Longitude-124.29 - -121.66
Coord. prec.4 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Traveled (km)0
Contr. through
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS
GBIF (via DOI)
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