CalCOFI and NMFS Seabird and Marine Mammal Observation Data, 1987-2006

PRBO Conservation Science

Dataset credit

The projects were conducted under the grants awarded to the following
organizations and their scientists.

The principle investigators of the CalCOFI part of this dataset are
(in the chronological order from 1987 to 2006):
Richard Veit and John McGowan, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1987-1994)
David Hyrenbach, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1994-2000)
Bill Sydeman, PRBO Conservation Science (2000-2006)

The principle investigators of the Rockfish part of this dataset is
Bill Sydeman, PRBO Conservation Science (1996-2006)

# the affiliations are the ones they belonged to at the time of the surveys.

The data were contributed by PRBO Conservation Science.
These two projects are on going. See [Supplemental information] for the
information on the PIs and organizations in recent years.


Primary contact William Sydeman Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



This dataset contains observation data of marine birds and mammals from California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) from 1987-2006 and Rockfish cruises along the California coast from 1996-2006 by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Data were collected aboard research vessels using standardized marine bird and mammal survey techniques (Tasker et al. 1984, Buckland et al. 1993). Marine birds
and mammals were observed in a 90-degree arc from the bow to one side of the ship out to 300m. Counts are summarized by species and behavior along the transects in 3 km bins. Data span years 1987 - 2006.


Relating changing ocean productivity patterns and upper-trophic predator (seabirds and marine mammals) distributions to the underlying physical oceanographic variability enhances our understanding of the ecological context of the CalCOFI and NMFS database, thereby aiding in the interpretation of large-scale hydrographic and ocean productivity patterns. An inter-disciplinary, ecosystem-level perspective will provide new insight into offshore California wildlife habitat associations and how apex marine organisms (including fish with diets similar to seabirds and/or mammals) respond to differences in ocean climate, productivity, and water mass properties, information needed to manage fisheries and wildlife under changing ocean conditions.

Supplemental information

[2020-09-30] The following invalid species names were corrected according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Black-footed Albatross: Diomedea nigripes (174516) => Phoebastria nigripes (554379)
Bonaparte's Gull: Larus philadelphia (176839) => Chroicocephalus philadelphia (824040)
Caspian Tern: Sterna caspia (176924) => Hydroprogne caspia (176935)
Elegant Tern: Sterna elegans (176925) => Thalasseus elegans (176931)
Franklin's Gull: Larus pipixcan (176838) => Leucophaeus pipixcan (824082)
Great Egret: Casmerodius albus (174810) => Ardea alba (554135)
Laughing Gull: Larus atricilla (176837) => Leucophaeus atricilla (824079)
Laysan Albatross: Diomedea immutabilis (174517) => Phoebastria immutabilis (554378)
Least Tern: Sterna antillarum (176923) => Sternula antillarum (824127)
Red Phalarope: Phalaropus fulicaria (554376) => Phalaropus fulicarius (176734)
Royal Tern: Sterna maxima (176922) => Thalasseus maximus (824142)
South Polar Skua: Catharacta maccormicki (176801) => Stercorarius maccormicki (660062)
Willet: Catoptrophorus semipalmatus (176638) => Tringa semipalmata (824147)
Parula americana (178868) => Setophaga americana (950033)
Dendroica petechia T(178878) => Setophaga petechia (950039)
Dendroica townsendi (178897) => Setophaga townsendi (950058)
Dendroica occidentalis (178902) => Setophaga occidentalis (950059)
Dendroica coronata (178891) => Setophaga coronata (950046)
Wilsonia pusilla (178973) => Cardellina pusilla (950080)

[UPDATE 2013-03-25] The following species codes had been associated with invalid species names. These were corrected to valid species names.
WWSC White-Winged Scoter => Melanitta fusca deglandi
STAL Short-Tailed Albatross => Phoebastria albatrus
LAAL Laysan Albatross => Diomedea immutabilis
LETU Leatherback Turtle => Dermochelys coriacea
These data are publicly available without restriction. However, it is
suggested that potential users contact the data contributor (Marine
Division Director at PRBO Conservation Science,
or PI Bill Sydeman ( for questions concerning
the use of dataset (methods, accuracy, help with interpretation etc.).

The dataset is also available at Ocean Informatics Data Zoo

The CalCOFI and Rockfish projects are on going.
The Principle Investigators of these projects are as follows (listed those in
recent years only):

Rockfish survey
2008, Leg 1/2: Bill Sydeman, Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research
2008, Leg 3: Jaime Jahncke, PRBO Conservation Science
2009, Leg 1/2: Bill Sydeman, Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research
2009, Leg 3: Jaime Jahncke, PRBO Conservation Science

CalCOFI survey
2006-2007: Bill Sydeman, PRBO Conservation Science
2007-current: Bill Sydeman, Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research

These recent data are available from these individuals or organizations upon request.
The recent data by Bill Sydeman will be also available through OBIS-SEAMAP in the
near future.

Each sighting is a total of all of the birds/mammals of that species and behavior
seen in an area (approx. 3 km long and 300m wide). The location is represented at
the middle of the bin. Length may be less at the end of a transect, and width
may be less depending on the weather.
Each bin is temporally about 10 minutes in duration (depending on ship speed).

Tracklines on this map represent on-effort only. Off-effort tracks may be obtained
from the data provider.


Jahncke, J. and C. Rintoul. 2006. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) cruises, 1987-2006.
Yen, P.P.W., W.J. Sydeman, S.J. Bograd, K.D. Hyrenbach. 2006. Spring-time distributions of migratory marine birds in the southern California Current: Oceanic eddy associations and coastal habitat hotspots over 17 years. Deep-Sea Research II. 53 (2006) 399–418.
Yen, P.P.W., W. J. Sydeman, K. D. Hyrenbach. 2004. Marine bird and cetacean associations with bathymetric habitats and shallow-water topographies: implications for trophic transfer and conservation. Journal of Marine Systems. 50 (2004) 79– 99.



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
idProvider assigned ID
gis_keyPrimary key; a concatenation of survey name + year + month + date + survey bin/transect number (bin)
obs_dateDate of survey bin (MM/DD/YYYY)
obs_timeStart time of survey bin
latitudeMidpoint Latitude Position of Bin (decimal degrees)
longitudeMidpoint Longitude Position of Bin (decimal degrees)
speciesSpecies of seabird or mammal observation
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number by Integrated Taxonomic Information System
scientificScientific name
rankSpecies taxonomic rank
behaviorBehavior of seabird or mammal observation
obs_countCount of observation
depthBathymetric depth of survey bin (CalCOFI and NMFS only)
svy3 letter survey code CAC=CalCOFI; LIP=Line P; CPR=Continuous Plankton Recorder; NMF=NMFS Rockfish Recruitment Survey
cruiseUnique ID attributed to individual cruises (SVY+YYY_MM)
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
Marine mammals5,326
Sea turtles13
Rays and sharks45
Other species7,071
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1987-05-02
Date, End2006-11-04
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude29.77 - 40.09
Longitude-126.47 - -117.23
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
EffortYES (ID: 508)
Traveled (km)139,532
Effort hours6,738
Contr. through
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS
GBIF (via DOI)
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics