Latest Out Standing podcast visits peculiar Great Salt Lake island

Thursday , March 16, 2017 - 11:28 AM

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

The Outstanding in a Field podcast team heads to the Great Salt Lake again to explore a remote island and the birds drawn to its isolation.

John Luft of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program and Jaimi Butler of the Great Salt Lake Institute explain the importance of Gunnision Island for nesting pelican in the latest episode, “Peli-can we visit Gunnison Island?” They also scout out a high perch for their PELIcam, which offers virtual visitors from around the world a glimpse of the birds and their rugged Great Salt Lake habitat.

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Gunnison Island has a colorful history, from a reference point for an early Great Basin survey team to a homestead site for an eccentric artist to its bird poop harvesters. The island proved inhospitable to people, however, which preserved it as an important site for plucky pelicans and gulls. Today, around 20,000 gulls and 10,000 American white pelicans raise their chicks on the island each year. 

Gunnison Island’s solitude and lack of fresh water has largely protected the birds and their brood. But low water levels in the Great Salt Lake has created a land bridge, allowing predators to intrude. The island’s protectors hope to generate public interest in both the lake and the birds’ fate.

Watch the PELIcam’s live feed at Listen below to learn more about the pelican project and the strange, unique landscape of Gunnison Island.



Out Standing in a Field is the Standard-Examiner’s podcast about science and environment. Episodes are available wherever you find your podcasts, including iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, Stitcher and TuneIn.

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