Sunday October 12, 2008
We have never had to cancel a trip due to weather over the last six
years so I am somewhat taken aback when I get a call from Skipper
Richard Ternullo on Friday morning saying he thinks we should cancel
the Saturday, October 11 outing due to the wind forecast and small
craft advisory. Richard has thirty plus years of experience on the
Monterey Bay so when he makes a suggestion like this we pay attention.
Fortunately we are able to move most of the Saturday people over to
Sunday when the wind forecast looks a lot more favorable. We also
decide to shorten the trip to 8 hours, as the winds look like they
might be unfavorable offshore.
As it turns out the winds on Saturday morning aren't so bad as to
keep the whale watch fleet in the harbor but they don't take any afternoon
trips due to the wind and waves.
Pulling away from the Coast Guard jetty on Sunday morning we watch
flocks of SURF SCOTERS pass by and are lucky to catch a glimpse
of a pair of HARLEQUIN DUCKS on their way to the harbor.
Approaching Pt. Pinos we find a single immature PIGEON GUILLEMOT
to the delight of the Europeans on board. They also enjoy the flight
of PACIFIC LOONS and a few ELEGANT TERNS overhead.
Rounding Pt. Pinos we head west from Cypress Point. We have seen only
a few SOOTY SHEARWATERS when Todd Easterla points out a MANX
SHEARWATER. A little further west we come upon a great deal of
shearwater activity and are surprised to find more PINK-FOOTED
and BULLER'S SHEARWATERS than Sooties. They must have taken
those strong northwest winds out of here. In this area we also find
our first NORTHERN FULMARS and are paid a visit by a small
pod of LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN that ride the bow. Before day's
end we will have PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS
do the same.
We are tempted to spend the morning parked here with all the activity
but we continue our way westward. The seabird activity drops dramatically
and the swell picks up along with the wind. I look back from the top
drive to see chummer Tanner Easterla getting soaked at the stern.
This is not fun and we aren't seeing much of anything so our new skipper
Mike Johns and I decide to head back toward the bay rather than pound
our way out offshore.
Richard was right about going offshore today. It ain't pretty.
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS numbers seem up today in comparison
to our last few trips. Alcids are few with COMMON MURRE, RHINOCEROS
AUKLETS and a handful of CASSIN'S AUKLETS seen.
Around noon I go up to the top drive to eat my sandwich and just as
I finish the last bite there is a commotion at the back of the boat.
I hear the three most exciting words on a pelagic trip, "STOP THE
I swing out of the top drive and land in the middle of the salon in
three giant steps. I arrive at the back of the boat where everyone
has their bins locked on something.
"What do you got?"
SHEARWATER at 8 o'clock."
The strange looking shearwater parallels the boat at nine up high
enough so everyone can see. We watch the bird turn its head, bank
away from us and streak away (sorry I couldn't resist).
Credit one of our regulars Kenneth Petersen and spotter Tim Amaral
who were both watching our wake when the Streaked Shearwater appeared.
Someone should always be looking astern!
Usually after lunch the nap attack comes on but not today. Everyone
is engaged and excited. All the leaders are wondering how many more
species of shearwater can we find today?
We watch pair of semi-friendly HUMPBACK WHALES rolling around in a
kelp patty. The visibility is so good that we can make out the white
of the long pectoral fins underwater.
We've been vigilant in scrutinizing the dark shearwaters that come
in to our chum and finally our efforts are rewarded when Todd and
I find a SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER land briefly amongst the gulls
in our wake.
Today we are Skua Slammed, which is to say we do not see a single
jaeger or skua on the day. Where'd they all go?
On the way in Tim Amaral calls out a single BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER
from the bow for shearwater species number seven! A nice way to wrap
up another great day on the Monterey Bay!
CALIFORNIA SEA LION
HARBOR SEAL SEA OTTER
For additional photos, see photo
gallery for the October 12 seabird cruise (photos by Todd Easterla,
processed by Jeff Poklen).
Roger Wolfe for Monterey