Fun facts about wildlife found at Gulf State Park
Sam- our resident Brown Pelican
Sam came to us 8 years ago on his own free will and has become quite an icon at the Pier. He was banded in Louisiana as a baby and became habituated at the Gulf State Park Fishing and Education Pier because of people feeding him. While it is fun to hang out with Sam and the other pelicans on the pier, please do not feed them.
Brown pelicans, due to their social nature, become dependent on discarded fish and fish scraps. The birds will often congregate in places where the scraps are readily available and rely on the scraps as a major source of food. In places where fish scraps are available, such as the pier, the pelicans will arrive day after day to eat, becoming habituated, according to FWC biologists.
Hanging out at the piers can develop into a further problem when pelicans get caught with fishing hooks while trying to steal fish directly from the fishing line. Its not unusual to see a pelican with a hook embedded in its pouch and fishing line trailing behind it," Embedded hooks can cause the soft skin of the birds pouch to tear. Such injuries can sometimes become infected, which can lead to sickness and weakness. In extreme cases, the bird may die from illness or from starvation because it weakens to the point where it cant get enough food.
"Brown Pelicans are huge, stocky seabirds. They have thin necks and very long bills with a stretchy throat pouch used for capturing fish. Their wings are very long and broad and are often noticeably bowed when the birds are gliding. Brown Pelicans feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them up in their expandable throat pouches. When not foraging, pelicans stand around fishing docks, jetties, and beaches or cruise the shoreline."
So, please come and take some photos with Sam at the pier just no free lunches.