Sunday September 5, 2004
The day was as sunny and warm as it can get here on the Monterey
Bay. It would have been perfect had not the northwest winds come up
earlier in the week and built up a bit of a swell. The surfers have
been happy this week.
We too were happy on this day and saw some interesting things. We
had a nice sized group of 30 on board the Pt. Sur Clipper. For starters
we had a PIGEON GUILLEMOT inside the breakwater and BRANDT'S
CORMORANTS and BLACK TURNSTONES on the breakwater. Just
outside it we had a PELAGIC CORMORANT and some RED-NECKED
PHALAROPES. A little farther out we saw our first COMMON MURRES.
Not far off Pt. Pinos we came upon a mixed pod of dolphins that included
RISSO'S, PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE. Our skipper
Richard Ternullo, who is a fount of information when it comes to cetaceans,
was telling me that hybridization between some of the smaller dolphins
had been documented. As if on cue we looked out the window and saw
one! The Pacific White-sided X Northern Right Whale Dolphin was a
grayish color overall and had a dorsal fin reminiscent of a Blue Whale.
I ran out and encouraged the photographers on board to try and document
this. It is hard enough to get a decent shot of a group of dolphins
let alone an individual!
SOOTY SHEARWATERS were soon followed by PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS
and then Richard called out a FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER that
circled around the boat a few times so everyone got to see. Nice when
they're cooperative like that.
We found several HUMPBACK WHALES in one area with a good concentration
of shearwaters around them.
Our main goal for the day was to find the storm-petrel flock that
Richard had been seeing off and on since late August. It has been
a couple of years since they've roosted in the bay for any length
of time and we were all looking forward to seeing them.
Enroute to where we hoped to see them we had several BLACK-FOOTED
ALBATROSS come in to check out the chum. A POMARINE JAEGER
put in an all too brief appearance; we had nice looks at a number
of migrant RED PHALAROPES and SABINE'S GULLS. A flyby
tern had to be labeled "commic" as we had to brief a look to be able
identify it as either Arctic or Common.
Santa Cruz county waters we went searching the area where Richard
had least seen the storm-petrels earlier in the week. We started seeing
ASHY STORM PETRELS. We laid a slick of fish oil to return to
and continued our search for the flock. A short while later we got
a call on the radio that the other seabird boat on the bay had found
the flock near where we laid the slick.
Don Roberson and Richard estimated the flock contained approximately
1500 ASHY STORM-PETRELS, 15 BLACKS, 2 LEASTS
and 1 WILSON'S that kept reappearing. Some of the Blacks and
Ashies were quite accommodating, in flying by the boat. The others
made it difficult.
our way back towards Pt. Pinos we came upon a single TUFTED PUFFIN
which got everyone excited again. We also saw several RHINOCEROS
At one point Richard spotted a small bushy blow and the fleeting dorsal
of a few CUVIER'S BEAKED WHALES and that was all she wrote. The fount
of information then told me that these whales had a recorded dive
time of up to an hour and twenty minutes! As it says in the Audubon
Guide to Marine Mammals of the World (illustrated by Pieter Folkens),
"On the supposition that these whales respond to the approach of a
vessel by diving, the best chance for detecting them comes from looking
astern." So I headed for the stern to assume chumming duties. Never
did see them.
CALIFORNIA SEA LION
CALIFORNIA SEA OTTER
Roger Wolfe for Monterey