Hordes of pelicans take over a California beach. ‘You couldn’t even see the sand’

There’s a party going down at La Jolla.

A pelican party.

Just thousands of pelicans all over,” wildlife photographer Jim Grant told NBC San Diego. “You couldn’t even see the sand.”

There are so many of them at Children’s Pool in La Jolla, KGTV reported, that there is no room for the seals that usually congregate along the shore.

The squawking squadron has attracted the attention of photographers, locals and scientists.

Tammy Russell, a Ph.D. candidate with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told NBC San Diego that the pelicans were probably drawn to La Jolla for food. They are there to roost — to rest and feed before flying off to breed elsewhere.

They will likely stick around as long as food remains, Russell told the outlet.

Pelicans eat a diet of primarily small fish they can scoop up in their cupped beaks by “plunge diving,” according to Oceana.

Perhaps then, it’s even less surprising they’re taking over La Jolla: Ocean researchers have discovered that half of California’s fish species can be found at La Jolla.

The abundance of fish and pelicans likely has a lot to do with La Jolla’s unique protected status when it comes to marine life. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the water off La Jolla contains two adjoining protected areas that safeguard and foster the prosperity of countless fish, kelp and underwater reefs.

“These habitats are home to an array of creatures including abalone, yellowtail, brown pelicans, and California sea lions,” according to the department.

Californians have seen a steady rise in the coast’s pelican presence in recent years. According to CBS 8 in 2022, their expansion is a triumph for conservationists.

California is home to more than 70,000 brown pelicans, according to KGTV.

According to CBS 8, California is used to seeing an influx of pelicans in La Jolla in the spring and early summer. However, in 2022, locals were noticing more than in years past.

President of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Bob Evans, told CBS it was the first time he could remember seeing so many pelicans.

“We’ve got one big wildlife preserve,” he said.

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