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Año Nuevo Island

Seabird Conservation, Habitat Restoration, and Ocean Indicators

img_1088Oikonos works with a team of ecologists, habitat restoration experts, artists, designers and land managers to restore degraded habitat for nesting seabirds on Año Nuevo Island, California. In addition, in 2017 Oikonos is leading the 25th consecutive year of seabird ecology studies at Año Nuevo State Park (initiated by the Park and Point Blue Conservation Science in 1993).

2016 News

Annual Año Nuevo Seabird Conservation and Habitat Restoration Report 2016

Summary Results from 2016 – flipbook

Thank you everyone that recently helped us raise over $6,500 for the project during our Happy Año Nuevo Fundraising Campaign – Celebrating our partners, volunteers, and accomplishments

Highlights from 2016:

  • 318 Rhinoceros Auklets bred on the island, with 294 in the habitat restoration area – setting a new record high.
  • Clay modules provided nesting habitat for 52 breeders from 3 different burrowing seabird species
  • Habitat restoration efforts continued to reduce erosion while increasing native plant cover. Only 11% of the burrows experienced erosion this year, compared to 40-60% before restoration.
  • Rhinoceros Auklets preyed mainly on Northern Anchovy in 2016.
Cassin’s Auklet newly hatched chick from a clay module

Cassin’s Auklet chick newly hatched from a clay module



Protection: To protect the seabird nesting area from destructive trampling by California sea lions, we designed an innovative Habitat Ridge.

Nest Modules: To provide low-maintenance nesting sites for burrowing seabirds that are safe from erosion and trampling, we designed and produced 90 clay nest modules. Since 2010, clay modules have been used by hundreds of pairs Rhinoceros Auklet, Cassin’s Auklet, and Pigeon Guillemots to raise their young. More info.

Restoration: To stabilize the burrowing habitat for Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets and improve nesting success, we installed over 15,000 native coastal grasses and shrubs. Since then, increased native plant cover (12-79% cover in restoration plots) has resulted in a reduction in burrow collapse from erosion (11% damaged in 2016, compared to 40-60% annually before restoration).

Seabird Population and Reproduction Studies:  We annually document the breeding population size and reproductive success of 8 breeding seabird species.  The Rhinoceros Auklet population increased by 26% and the Cassin’s Auklet population tripled since restoration began in 2010.

beck et al ANI Report diet graph 2015Indicators of Ocean Conditions: Seabird diet studies are widely used to assess and predict ocean health. We annually collect diet samples from Rhinoceros Auklets, Brandt’s Cormorants, and Pelagic Cormorants. This data is currently being used to inform ecosystem based management of California Current fisheries.

Publications & Papers

Peer-reviewed publications:

Temporal and Sex-Specific Variability in Rhinoceros Auklet Diet in the Central California Current System

Carle R., Beck J., Calleri D., and Hester M. 2015. Journal of Marine Systems 146:99-108.

Selected Reports – Long-term Study Results:

Año Nuevo State Park Seabird Conservation and Habitat Restoration Report 2016

Carle, R., Beck, J., Smith, N., Coletta, E., Calleri, D., and Hester, M. Unpublished report to CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Año Nuevo State Park. Oikonos – Ecosystem Knowledge.

Año Nuevo State Park Seabird Conservation and Habitat Restoration Report 2015

Beck, J. Carle, R.,  Calleri, D., Hester, M. 2015. Unpublished report to CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Año Nuevo State Park. Oikonos – Ecosystem Knowledge.


Audubon Network Speaking Up For Anchovy

California Audubon blog, January 2016, featuring Año Nuevo auklets and their prey

A Success Story: Preserving Breeding Habitat for Auklets on Año Nuevo Island

Coastside State Parks Association Newsletter, Spring 2014

Extremely Wild and Very Smelly, Año Nuevo Island Restoration

Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2013

Año Nuevo Island: Where the Wild Things Are

San Francisco Chronicle, 17 July, 2009.

Contact Project Leaders

Jessie Beck, Ryan Carle, Michelle Hester

Partners & Supporters


Thank you to the over 160 volunteers who have given their expertise and muscles to these efforts.  Thank you to the individual donors for caring about the seabirds of Año Nuevo.

Key partners Go Native, California College of the Arts Ceramics, MoreLab, Año Nuevo State Park.

Direct funding provided by USCG National Pollution Fund Center, managed by the Luckenbach and Command Oil Spill Trustee Councils; Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation; Patagonia Santa Cruz; Peninsula Open Space Trust; Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation; Michael Lee Environmental Foundation; Bently Foundation; USGS – Western Ecological Research Center; Coastal Conservancy.

More ~ Photos, Videos, Flipbooks

Photo Galleries – Volunteers and Highlights
Videos – Art Students Design Seabird Homes and Restoring an Island
Flipbook – Design Ecology: Creating habitat for Seabirds


Program Needs

In addition to monetary donations, donations of the following equipment and gear would be extremely helpful to the project. Please contact Project Manager Ryan Carle if you are interested in making a donation.

  • 2-stroke or 4-stroke outboard motors at least 15hp in good running condition
  • used or new wetsuits of any adult size in good condition
  • adult-sized lifejackets in good condition
  • drybags of any size in good condition
  • watertight pelican cases
  • clean (no dirt or seeds) wooden construction stakes
  • 4×4 or 2×4 redwood lumber (preferably reclaimed and clean of seeds and dirt)
  • headlamps with strong red light option
  • 12 to 14-foot Zodiac-style inflatable boats in good condition
  • stainless-steel carabiners