Saturday September 6, 2008
September is often the nicest time of the year in the Monterey Bay
area. The tourists have fled and the oppressive summer fog releases
its tight grip on the coast. Our Sept. 6 outing was arguably one of
our nicest in terms of weather. All 16 on board enjoyed bright, sunny
skies with little wind to contend with.
We headed out of the harbor and directly toward the south rim of the
Monterey Sea Canyon. Reports on the radio were of "Tuxedos" as some
of the local captains like to refer to Killer Whales/Orcas. There
was considerable excitement two days earlier when a pod of Transient
type Orcas were observed stalking, drowning and subsequently eating
a Minke Whale in the bay. This is the first time this predator/prey
interaction was documented in these waters.
Alas the report proved to be unfounded when we arrived near the area
of the report and came upon a pod of RISSO'S DOLPHINS. This is a common
misidentification with local fisherman. En route we came upon many
small flocks of SOOTY SHEARWATERS sitting on the water.
We traveled along the south rim of the Monterey Sea Canyon on a southwest
heading, sifting through dozens of shearwater flocks on the water
and started finding some PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS in the mix
and eventually some BULLER'S SHEARWATERS as well.
We came upon one flock that we assumed were more Sooties but closer
inspection revealed these were all BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS!
Apparently they had just been abandoned by a fishing vessel bringing
in its catch, thus the congregation. Many of them appeared to be older
individuals with very pale napes.
had a special on FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATERS with 5 seen on the
day, a few of which approached the boat to the delight of the photographers
on board, who had plenty of room to pan today. The Fleshies were nearly
upstaged by a great showing of SOUTH POLAR SKUAS. There were
5 flying around the stern at one time, thanks to the diligent chumming
by my nephew Kevin.
1 LONG-TAILED, 1 PARASITIC and a few POMARINE JAEGERS
for a "skua slam".
We saw few SABINE'S GULLS. Terns were even sparser. A single
FORSTERS was spotted early on and the occasional ELEGANT
passed overhead. On the way in we finally had 3 COMMON TERNS
zip by. No Arctics, where are they?
In the alcid department we enjoyed nice looks at RHINOCEROS AUKLETS
and COMMON MURRES but the 3 CASSIN'S AUKLETS were pretty
uncooperative. With calm seas and warmer sea surface temperatures
in the low 60s we were hopeful for some murrelet action but none were
In the afternoon the winds picked up from the northwest as we pushed
offshore nearly 20 miles southwest of Pt. Pinos to the 1500 fathom
spot where we laid a fish oil slick and chummed. We sat on it for
a good half hour but attracted nothing new. We did see several ASHY
STORM-PETRELS here and there throughout the day but did not see
any other storm-petrel sp.
Bob Flood from the Isles of Scilly is on board today recounting for
us his pelagic experiences this past year. The sinking of the M/S
Explorer near Antarctica (See www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1cDBsLZNAg
) and the 5-week voyage of the Pacific Ocean Odyssey. It is always
fun having Storm-petrel Bob on board.
As to cetaceans: the mother and calf pair of LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS
greet vessels as they leave the harbor. We were no exception. We also
enjoyed seeing HUMPBACK WHALES, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT
WHALE DOLPHINS and a few DALL'S PORPOISES.
CALIFORNIA SEA LION
CALIFORNIA SEA OTTER
For additional photos, see Jeff
Poklen's photo gallery for the September 6 seabird cruise.
Roger Wolfe for Monterey