A very unusual sighting happened on the beach at Gualala Point Regional Park a few weeks ago. Doug Forsell wrote, “There is several hundred thousand Euphausiids, Krill, washed up on the beach. They are Thysanoessa spinifera, which are the most common nearshore species in California."
‘These are small shrimp-like animals that feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton. They can form large swarms providing food for whales, birds, and fish. They are an important link in the ocean food chain, and many species are dependent on them. The unusual thing about the stranding is the winds have been calm, and the surf low for the past couple days. Perhaps it was so calm there was no surf to warn them away from shore. All of these animals appeared very fresh.”
Doug said there were over five hundred “fat and happy” Gulls and a handful of Turkey Vultures gorging on the Krill. He watched a Peregrine Falcon take a pass at the feasting Gulls, but the falcon didn’t nab one. And out on the water he could see Surf Scoters, Loons and other birds that appeared to be eating Krill.
I sent Doug’s photos to whale expert, Scott Mercer. Scott wrote, “Watch for feeding Blues and Humpbacks. That's prime Blue Whale dinner. Sounds like prime avian dinner too. What a bonus for the vultures. I've never seen euphausiids wash up like that.”
So, thanks to Doug, we learned of this event. It's wonderful to know the Pacific Ocean is filled with these creatures that feed so many animals, including the biggest of them all, the Blue Whale.
Thanks to Doug, also, for allowing me to share his photos with you here.