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STEARNS WHARF, Santa Barbaraa delight for tourist and local alike but because of careless or scofflaw fishermen and visitors, a sometimes deadly place for pelicans and seagulls. The following Web galleries have some pictures of actions asking for accidents - and calls to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (966-9005).

Stearns Wharf from above

Stearns Wharf from 3159 ft, © Google Earth

signs and overhead casting

City signs and fisherman

Stearns Wharf entrance

Weekday, the June gloom hanging offshore

Fishing hooks and monofilament line can be a deadly combination for seabirds. Overhead casting and all feeding of seabirds are prohibited on Stearns Wharf, with prominently displayed signage (when it has not been removed by Wharf visitors.) The City of Santa Barbara Waterfront Department works hard to protect both seabirds and human visitors. More needs to be done. While you're visiting, take a look at the neighboring Goleta Pier.

If you witness anyone harming/feeding seabirds, call the SB Harbor Patrol (805-564-5530), SB Waterfront Department (805-564-5531), CA Fish&Game (

Click on the Web Gallery below and then on the thumbnails for larger images. Duplicates of photos and enlargements of better quality are available for identification purposes. Videos of certain sequences are also available, but not yet converted/downsized for the Web.


June 4, 2007

Click here for June 04, 2007, Web Gallery

Plentiful mackerel - some of the fishermen were using only a bamboo pole and line wrapped around a plastic container, getting 4 or 5 or 6 on a line. Although there are many pelicans hanging out on the sandspit, none were around the pier on Monday evening — none were being fed. Gulls, however, were going for the cleanings being tossed over the side at the cleaning station.

june 04 2007

begging pelican

Click here for October Web Gallery

Feeding, teasing with a crab, tossing fish to the deck, fish stuck in pelican's throat (he straightened it out after anxious seconds), fisherman teasing, tourist feeding, fishermen throwing fish parts over the side of the pier.

October 7 , 2006

July 09-10, 2006


Click here for 7/09-10 Web Gallery

(Teasing, pretending to have fish - video available; feeding in the evening; feeding from the fishcleaning station, and from behind the Sea Landing boat, Stardust - no wonder that the trusting pelicans begin to associate people fishing and fishing boats with food and then act accordingly!)




Click here for 7/08 Web Gallery

(Feeding; reaching into the beak to save one's catch; teasing)

July 08, 2006

June 29, 2006



Click here for 6/29 Web Gallery

(Mostly photos of a fishing regular at the pier, holding out fish,
feeding, followed by slapping one of the pelicans.)


These photos were taken at random times and do not reflect all the harms done to the pelicans — nor the good and kind work by many volunteers, including fishermen and Frank, the owner of the Bait Shop. We hope to add photos of those acts of kindness; we will add others as seen or e-mailed (with verification.)

What do other jurisdictions do about the problem of fishing and seabirds? Write info (at) pelicanlife.org.

For information and what you can do to help: visit the Threats and Resources pages.

Never feed pelicans (or other seabirds) hanging around for a handout at fishing piers. Pelicans quickly lose their fear and begin to beg for food and can lose their ability to hunt and feed themselves. Advise others that it's not kindness to feed.

It's against the law to "take" or to "harm" protected species, including by feeding. All seabirds, whatever their status as "Endangered", are protected. Giving fish on Stearns Wharf is not kindness, 'though it may be intended so, but are acts that will lead to the birds' maiming and death.

Always pick up any monofilament line and dispose of it where seabirds can not get entrapped. Watch out for any cruelty and report, depending where it's observed, to the Harbor Patrol or police or Fish and Wildlife Service.

For the City of Santa Barbara, Harbor Patrol (805-564-5530), Waterfront Department (805-564-5531)

E-Mail reports of law breaking to:California Fish and Game (fgc@fgc.ca.gov).
Report violations directly to:
2493 Portola Road, Suite B; Ventura, CA 93003; office (805) 644-1766 X316; Rick Farris is the Fish and Wildlife division chief for Ventura.


Local harbor patrols should be notified if you see anyone injuring pelicans or other seabirds within the city waterfront areas. If seen in the Los Angeles area, call the Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516.

For pelican rescue guidelines and tips, please visit the Resources page of this web site.

http://pelicanlife.org © Betsy Robertson Cramer, 2006, all rights reserved.
Contact: info(at)pelicanlife.org