MMS Surveys, SCB 1995-1997

Minerals Management Service

Dataset credit

Credit for this study is shared with OSPR by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), Pacific OCS Region, that provided most observers for surveys flown in Santa Barbara Channel and the Santa Maria Basin; MMS personnel also carried out tape-transcriptions and computer entry for surveys in southern California waters (this portion of the OSPR surveys was conducted under matching-funds between OSPR and the Coastal Marine Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara).


Primary contact Glenn Ford
Data entry Benjamin Best Duke University


Ford, G. 2015. MMS Surveys, SCB 1995-1997. Data downloaded from OBIS-SEAMAP ( on yyyy-mm-dd.
Unknown. Unknown. So. Calif Bight/MMS Surveys, Minerals Management Service (MMS), Pacific OCS Region.


These data were collected from aerial surveys of marine birds and mammals in support of oil spill response and injury assessment, Southern California Bight/MMS Surveys [Birds and Mammals] Study Code: SX, Contract number: FG7407-OS with California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR); and 14-35-0001-30758 (Task 13293) with the Coastal Marine Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Principal investigator: Michael L. Bonnell, Ph.D., Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

Time period: June 1994 through October 1998
Study area: Coastal and inland marine waters of California

Methodology: Aerial surveys were conducted in a variety of California locales with experienced observers and trainees. The aircraft used was a Partenavia PN68 Observer provided by the Department of Air Services, CDFG, flown at an altitude of 200' (60 m) above ground level and at a typical air speed of 90 kts. Two observers (at least one experienced) occupied middle seats and searched a corridor of 50 m on each side of the aircraft. Width was defined by clinometer and simple trigonometric functions. Species, numbers, behavior and other information was described on hand-held tape recorders for later transcription and computer entry. The co-pilot position was occupied by a navigator/computer operator. This individual recorded number of observers on-watch, transect status (i.e., on-effort, off-effort, and commutes), as well as sea state, weather and other observation conditions. Date, time, and position of the aircraft were recorded directly into the data-logging computer with time, latitude and longitude provided by a Global Positioning System (GPS).

Databases produced: A single database was produced including date, time, latitude/longitude, behavior, observation conditions, and other information for each sighting of marine birds, mammals, and turtles. As stated above, some surveys were solely for the purpose of drills and training, some for systematic data collection, and others for actual oil spill response.

In this study, 74 one-day surveys were flown through 1997. Through the end of 1997, a total of 670 hours were flown and,
exclusive of commutes, mapped bird and mammal distribution and abundance along 31,271 km (16,886 nmi) of transects. Data
from several surveys from 1998 are yet fully analyzed and therefore not included in this dataset.


The objectives were to develop and maintain a capability to provide aerial surveys of marine bird and mammal distribution and abundance for oil spill response and post-spill injury assessment.

Supplemental information

[2020-09-30] The following invalid species names were corrected according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Branta nigricans (175013) => Branta bernicla nigricans (714723)
Bonaparte's Gull: Larus philadelphia (176839) => Chroicocephalus philadelphia (824040)
Caspian Tern: Sterna caspia (176924) => Hydroprogne caspia (176935)
Sterna elegans (176925) => Thalasseus elegans (176931)
Little Tern: Sterna albifrons (176899) => Sternula albifrons (824126)
Red Phalarope: Phalaropus fulicaria (554376) => Phalaropus fulicarius (176734)
Royal Tern: Sterna maxima (176922) => Thalasseus maximus (824142)
Heteroscelus incanus (176635) => Tringa incana (176630)
Catoptrophorus semipalmatus (176638) => Tringa semipalmata (824147)
Larus tridactyla (176874) => Rissa tridactyla (176875)
Endomychura hypoleuca (824180) => Synthliboramphus hypoleucus (177011)
Phalacrocorax olivaceus (174722) => Phalacrocorax brasilianus brasilianus (824220)
Larus sabini (176865) => Xema sabini (176866)

2015-11-17: A sighting of Pelecanus occidentalis on 1996-10-24 at 14:44:50 is turned to a presence-only rocord. Previously, the number of animals was -1 incorrectly.

8/1/2011: Species previously recorded as Hyperoodon ampullatus have been corrected as Hyperoodon sp.




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 mammals894
Sea turtles2
Rays and sharks23
Other species5,474
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1995-02-15
Date, End1997-08-14
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude33.96 - 35.46
Longitude-121.17 - -118.85
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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See metadata in FGDC XML
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