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California Coastal National Monument

Tips for Seabird Protection


How You Can Help

State and Federal laws protect seabirds and other marine life from disturbance and harassment.  Being aware of wildlife around you is the key to preventing disturbance.

Remember!  Breeding and roosting seabird species that nest or roost on cliffs or offshore rocks are highly susceptible to human disturbances.

To learn more about how you can be seabird safe, click on the links below according to how you recreate on the coast:

  1. Boating
  2. Hiking
  3. Flying
  4. Canoeing/Kayaking/Paddling
  5. Photographing
  6. Beachcombing/Dog Walking
  7. Surfing/Swimming/Diving

Need to Report Something? 

If you witness disturbance or harassment to these protected animals, report the incident to the Network:

Report A Disturbance


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 Boating

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow boaters and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Stay 1000' (roughly 3 football fields) away from cliffs, offshore rocks, and islands
  • If you see birds reacting nervously (like head-bobbing, fluttering, calling or flying away) you are too close
  • Paddle, sail, or motor around flocks of birds rather than through them
  • Do Not Feed Wildlife
  • Bring binoculars to enjoy watching seabirds from a safe distance
  • Recycle or dispose of plastic items, fishing hooks, and fishing line in the trash - not in the water
  • Cover your fishing bait
  • Use barbless fishing hooks, artificial lures and weighted fishing lines to avoid hooking seabirds
  • Never dump oil, fuel, or other foreign substances into the water or storm drains onshore
  • Educate other boaters about boating and fishing seabird safe.

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 Hiking

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow hikers and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Stay on the trail at all times, as one carelessly placed foot can damage underground nesting burrows
  • If you see wildlife acting nervously you are too close; slowly back away and leave the area
  • Pack out your trash
  • Do Not Feed Wildlife
  • Bring binoculars to enjoy watching seabirds from a safe distance
  • Educate other hikers about hiking seabird safe. 

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Flying

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow pilots and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Follow laws and safety guidelines that protect seabirds and your aircraft from harm
  • 2000' AGL is recommended when flying within National Marine Sanctuaries
  • Areas along the California Coast require a minimum 1000' AGL
  • No direct flyovers or multiple passes are allowed in areas with sensitive wildlife
  • Report violations to the NOAA Hotline 1-800-853-1964
  • Educate other pilots about flying seabird safe.

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Canoeing/Kayaking/Paddling

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow kayakers, canoers, and paddlers and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Stay 1000' (roughly 3 football fields) away from cliffs, offshore rocks, and islands
  • If you see birds reacting nervously (like head-bobbing, fluttering, calling or flying away) you are too close
  • Paddle around flocks of birds rather than through them
  • Do Not Feed Wildlife
  • Bring binoculars to enjoy watching seabirds from a safe distance
  • Recycle or dispose of plastic items, fishing hooks, and fishing line in the trash - not in the water
  • Cover your fishing bait
  • Use barbless fishing hooks, artificial lures and weighted fishing lines to avoid hooking seabirds
  • Never dump oil, fuel, or other foreign substances into the water or storm drains onshore
  • Educate other kayakers, canoers, and paddlers about being seabird safe. 

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Photographing

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow photographers and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Stay off rocks at low tide when seabirds are present
  • Photograph seabirds from a distance of at least 1000' (roughly 3 football fields)
  • If you see birds reacting nervously (like head-bobbing, fluttering, calling or flying away) you are too close
  • Educate other photographers about being seabird safe 

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Beachcombing/Dog Walking

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow beachcombers and dog-walkers and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Keep your dog(s) on a leash at all times and out of the intertidal areas
  • Keep your dog(s) from chasing birds at rest on the beach or rocky areas
  • Be aware of seasonal or permanent closures of areas reserved for seabird protection
  • Appreciate seabirds from a distance of at least 1000' (roughly 3 football fields)
  • If you see birds reacting nervously (like head-bobbing, fluttering, calling or flying away) you are too close
  • Stay off the rocks at low tide when seabirds are present
  • Educate other beachcombers and dog owners about being seabird safe  

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Surfing/Swimming/Diving

Approaching too close to seabird colonies causes birds to panic and fly away, resulting in abandoned nests and potential decreases in seabird populations.  Join fellow surfers, swimmers, and divers and help protect seabirds by following these tips:

  • Stay off rocks at low tide when seabirds are present
  • Be aware of seasonal or permanent closures of areas reserved for seabird protection
  • Stay 1000' (roughly 3 football fields) away from cliffs, offshore rocks, and islands
  • If you see birds reacting nervously (like head-bobbing, fluttering, calling or flying away) you are too close
  • Educate other surfers, swimmers, and divers about being seabird safe 

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Seabird Protection Network graphic of rocks with waves, courtesy USFWS


Bureau of Land Management
California Coastal National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
2800 Cottage Way, W-1623 
Sacramento, CA 95825
Phone: (916) 978-4636
fax: (916) 978-4657
Contact us by e-mail