Our Changing Oceans with Ron LeValley

January meeting topic is “Our Changing Ocean”


Blue Whale, Fort Bragg

In the past few years we have seen incredible concentrations of anchovies and krill along our coast at the same time that starfish have been dying. Now the ocean is very warm and the Humpback and Blue Whales are close to shore. What is going on?

Our ocean is warming, there is an increased level of Carbon Dioxide dissolved in the water and the sea level is rising. Of course there is increasing amounts of plastic in our ocean as well. These have far-reaching consequences to our marine animals and those of us living along the coast.


Krill are an important food source for many marine animals from salmon, to small birds like the Cassin’s Auklet and the large Blue Whale.

While not everything is predictable, there are certainly some trends that are obvious. One of the aspects of our local region is an eddy in the California Current that changes our annual ocean conditions.

Our January speaker, Ron LeValley, will be discussing these trends and changes and how they are affecting our local climate and the local ocean. Part of the presentation will be the changes we are observing in the local marine life, especially changes in distribution and seasonal trends. He will also be discussing some ideas of what we can expect from El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and other long-term trends in oceanography. Ron will also discuss what some of us can do to help the future of our local oceans.

Biologist Ron LeValley was founder and Senior Biologist of Mad River Biologists, a biological consulting firm in Northwestern California.  Best known for the identification and distribution of birds along the Pacific Coast, he also has an extensive understanding of natural history subjects. A lifelong interest in marine birds and mammals was enhanced by his involvement with Point Reyes Bird Observatory beginning in 1966, including serving as a biologist at the Farallon Island research station. Ron gathered a world-wide perspective on ecological issues when he founded and for 15 years directed Biological Journeys, a pioneering ecotourism company. One of Ron’s outstanding attributes is sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with others. He is particularly adept at explaining complex biological principles in understandable terms.

Ron graduated from Sacramento State College in 1969 with a B.A. degree in Biology and received his M.A in Biology from Humboldt State University in 1980. His affiliations include American Ornithologists Union (Life Member), The Pacific Seabird Group, National Audubon Society, Point Reyes Bird Observatory (Life Member), and Western Field Ornithologists. He also serves as an Associate Editor for Western Birds and served for eight years as Treasurer of the Pacific Seabird Group.

Ron also has been enamored with photography for the past 40 years. He specializes in photographs of wildlife of all kinds, from whales and birds to insects and natural scenes. As a professional photographer, Ron has compiled an impressive collection (over 90,000 images!) of wildlife and nature photographs that he uses for presentations and publications. Ron’s photography started back in the 1960’s and has evolved with the technology of the time.

Ron is a founding member of the Mendocino Coast Photographer Gallery, 357 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg CA where his work can be seen. He also shows at the G2 Gallery in Venice California, at Icons Gallery in Mendocino and at various shows around Northern California