Monterey Bay Whale Watch
Aug. 25, 2002 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Sunday August 25, 2002

Our inaugural Seabirding Cruise with Monterey Bay Whale Watch began under high overcast, foggy skies. Seas were Beaufort 3 and the water temperature just outside the harbor was 57.8F.

We began ticking off birds along the Coast Guard jetty. In amongst the throng of California Sea Lions and Brandt's Cormorants we spotted two Surfbirds and 10 Black Turnstones. Here we also had our first of what would prove to be many Red-necked Phalaropes. Moving along the outside of the kelp line just offshore of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row was a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphin, a rare sighting for this particular area. Here we also had a number of Common Murres and Pigeon Guillemots.

Slightly windy condition would limit our range on this day, but not to worry, Skipper Richard Ternullo brings into play 28 years of experience on the bay and knows where to find the birds in all kinds of weather. As we moved outside Pt. Pinos Sooty Shearwaters began to appear careening over the swells. We began to chum with popcorn, anchovies and squid and in short order we had a contingent of Western, California and Heerman's Gulls in tow which in turn brought in our first Pink-footed Shearwater and a short time later our first of 50 Black-footed Albatross we would see on this day. Flocks of both Arctic Terns and Sabine's Gulls stream by. A single Buller's Shearwater is our one and only.

A rooster tail on the surface of the water indicates two Dall's Porpoises coming in to check out the boat. A large group of Risso's Dolphins is accompanied by some Pacific White-sided and Common Dolphins that come in to ride our bow wake. About this time we also see our first Humpback Whale who is friendly and comes right up to us as if to say, "Hey birders, look at me!" But the marine mammals are quickly upstaged when a Long-tailed Jaeger with his whole tail intact flies right overhead giving all on board excellent looks and only minutes later a second one approaches the stern.

Trip leader Don Roberson and I are up on the bridge when a large apparition flies over the boat and we both holler South Polar Skua and as they typically do it continues on its journey finding little of interest in us. A Blue Whale thrills all on board with its close proximity and awesome proportions and it is great having marine biologist Nancy Black on board to tell us about this rare leviathan. Pomarine Jaegers, Common Terns and a lone Cassin's Auklet put in satisfying appearances.

Trip leader Jeff Davis calls over the FRS radio to announce some Ashy Storm Petrels at 9 o'clock and several Northern Right Whale Dolphins come in to ride our wake. As we're heading back to port I comment that we're missing Parasitic Jaeger. Don comes up with a baseball analogy that this is like almost hitting the cycle but not hitting a single. Richard says not to worry, he knows they will be near Pt. Pinos and sure enough we find two there.

About this time we're all feeling pretty satisfied with our outing when Richard calls out a Tufted Puffin over the P.A. and all on board get really great looks at the bird on the water right off our bow.

Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that not a single person suffered any effects of seasickness. This was a first for me!

Birds observed:
220 Brandt's Cormorants
20 Pelagic Cormorants
65 Brown Pelicans
2 Surfbirds
10 Black Turnstones
20 Common Murres
24 Pigeon Guillemots
45 Rhinoceros Auklets
1 Cassin's Auklet
1 Tufted Puffin
110 Elegant Terns
43 Arctic Terns
3 Common Terns

  250 Western Gulls
55 California Gulls
36 Sabine's Gulls
47 Red-Necked Phalaropes
4600 Sooty Shearwaters
54 Pink Footed Shearwaters
1 Buller's Shearwater
42 Black Footed Albatross
3 Parasitic Jaegers
2 Long Tailed Jaegers
2 Pomerine Jaegers
7 Ashy Storm Petrels
1 South Polar Skua

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Bay Whale Watch

U R Here 8/25/02 Trip Report
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Last updated June 13, 2003