September 2011 home page

  ASK Dr. RICH! 
Rich Simons | 11th Street
Photo illustration Art Olson

Q- A recent article in the Sandpiper reported that there is an increase in the number of pelicans on our shoreline this year. What is your explanation for this? - s.p.

First of all, as noted in that same article – more study is needed.
Why? Because biologists are people and they have families to support.
They too need jobs, jobs, jobs. Researchers should all receive grants at least until their children are out of college.

That being said, we the people should be prepared to assign blame in this matter in the off chance that they may actually come up with something.

Painting Don Coordt


The Blame Game:
The easiest target when it comes to blame is of course global warming, which takes it on the chin daily for everything from Padres baseball to congestion on I-15. In the case of pelicans, we can postulate that as their favorite habitats in Central America have boiled over they have migrated north to La Jolla Cove. Eventually, when La Jolla turns into Kuwait City, they will again head north, to Alaska, to interbreed with the Lapland Longspur.

Another easy mark in the blame game is loss of habitat. From here you don’t have to look far to see the Mexican Tourism Bureau filling up their entire coastline with those damn timeshare high-rises.

Next on our list of culprits would be lack of natural predators. For this, the finger of guilt points directly at the EPA, which banned the chemical DDT when it was doing a marvelous job of keeping these pests in check.

Finally, the blame for our pelican plethora can be laid squarely at the feet of the Fish and Game people, who have created all these marine life reserves, which are nothing more than free lunch counters for pelicans.

How You Can Help:
Many citizens living near the coast have expressed their outrage over the increased pelican “droppings” on their patios and decks. Some have suggested that the pelicans should be outfitted with some kind of special underwear. We don’t need to go there, as this topic has already been dealt with in John Grisham’s brilliant monograph “The Pelican Briefs.”

But concerned citizens can help scientists as follows: mark off your decks/patios/lawns in squares one cubit by one cubit (cubits? seems appropriate). Note daily the number of new white “splats” on your deck/patio/lawn. Divide by the number of squares. That will give you your SPDPSC. Chart carefully. About the time your kids get out of college you will be able to draw a straight line on your chart, preferably through the origin, which is after all the main purpose of science.

And the Final Word – but NOT by Ogden Nash!:
A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
-”The Pelican” (1910) by Dixon Lanier Merritt



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