It’s Bird-A-Thon season at PRBO – our biggest fundraiser. But on the Farallon Islands, we do things a little different (not surprising!). Instead of counting just species of birds, we count all of the animals we encounter including birds, fish, marine mammals, insects, and any other wildlife we find. We even assign points for rare and interesting wildlife events such as shark attacks and birds never before seen on the Farallones. This highly anticipated annual event is fondly referred to as the Farallonathon!
Initiated in 1992, the Farallonathon was created to recognize the truly unique elements of the Farallones, while at the same time participating in PRBO’s Annual Bird-A-Thon. The Farallonathon consists of a one week bio-blitz where we identify as many species of wildlife as possible.
Money raised from this event goes directly to supporting Farallon research allowing us to purchase biological equipment, food and supplies for island personnel, and pay PRBO staff to analyze and publish the data we collect. The information gathered from our research helps us and others protect the wildlife that use these special islands and the marine environment that surrounds it.
Please consider supporting our research by pledging either a per-point amount or a flat donation for the event.
What’s a typical ‘score’ for a Farallonathon? During the last 18 years, scores have ranged from a low of 133 points to a high of 240 (a good year for shark attacks!). The very first Farallonathon began auspiciously with a mega-rare Asian vagrant, the Northern Wheatear, but ended with only a modest 152 points due to very few shark attacks.
Over the last 10 years, I have participated in the best and the worst Farallonathons. Good years require rare birds and many shark attacks. Low Farallonathon scores occur when we experience foggy weather or strong northwest winds, which inhibit migrant birds from finding the island and prevent us from spotting wildlife on the ocean around the island. Moreover, the number of shark attacks we have witnessed from the island has declined steadily since 2000, which means that we are relying more and more on bird diversity.
This unique fundraising event is truly fun, but it is also part of our daily research. As Farallon biologists, we are constantly studying the wildlife of these near-pristine islands and documenting their activities. Every observation is a piece of the data that we record on the island--our outdoor laboratory on the Pacific. The Farallonathon gives us a way to celebrate our work on the island and share these experiences with you.
To pledge your financial support for our research, you can pledge a flat amount or you can make your pledge based on the Farallonathon point system. If you pledge your support, you will receive a detailed summary of our experience at the end of the Farallonathon week. Your participation allows us to continue studying this unique and vital ecosystem on the California Coast.
I hope you will join us!
PRBO Farallon Biologist
P.S. Follow our Farallonathon progress at www.losfarallones.blogspot.com.