Monterey Seabirds
June 25, 2006 Seabird Cruise Trip Report


Sunday June 25, 2006

We made history with our June 25 trip. For starters the trip was a go. Last June we had to cancel due to undersubscription. The previous year we had a boat malfunction that sent us back to the harbor an hour into our trip. These were the first and only times either of those occurrences have happened on any of our seabird trips. We broke the June jinx.

The marine layer was dense but high enough off the water for favorable viewing conditions. The water was greasy calm and the wind nonexistent. Good for seabirders but the lack of any wind is not so great for seabirds that thrive on a good breeze.

More history was made in that this was our only 1 shearwater species day ever. The one species we did see we saw in the tens of thousands. SOOTY SHEARWATERS were spread across the water in large rafts that at times stretched to the horizon. A sight I've seen other times but one that never fails to impress.

A couple of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS came in to investigate the gulls gathered at the stern for the popcorn chum when all of a sudden a flying TUFTED PUFFIN, in full alternate plumage, circled the boat a few times.

Humpback whales lunge-feeding, photo by Jeff PoklenOver the radio we listened to whale watch boats out on the bay looking for well, something to watch. They found only one HUMPBACK WHALE, whereas over Cabrillo Canyon we came upon four. Three of these were engaged in some cooperative vertical lunge feeding. The whales exploded out of the water with gaping maws and throat pleats billowing out. Anchovies were making desperate leaps of the whales' mouths.

We witnessed several of these vertical lunge feeds which kept the photographers on their toes. Where would they come exploding out of the water next? All in all an excellent show!

During this time with the whales we had another dozen or so albatrosses all around the boat.

Tufted Puffins, alternate adult, photo by Jeff PoklenAfter leaving the whales one of our chummers, a visiting Kenyan and PRBO intern John Musina, on his first boat trip ever, said he thought he'd seen two more puffins. We turned the boat around and sure enough there they were. A pair of resplendent TUFTED PUFFINS. From Monterey Birds (Roberson 2002) "Tufted Puffin is a scarce year round visitor to Monterey Bay and offshore waters. There is a concentration of records during fall, possibly due to more coverage rather than to more birds. In a typical fall season about 4-8 puffins are reported from organized pelagic trips, and never more than 1-2 per trip." More history being made.

Coincidently we debuted the new Monterey Seabird caps today and these are adorned with an embroidered Tufted Puffin. Perhaps we should have used a Wandering Albatross instead!

Two RHINOCEROS AUKLETS, several COMMON MURRES and the PIGEON GUILLEMOTS seen off Cannery Row were our only other alcids.

Marine mammals were scarce. In addition to the Humpbacks we had a single female NORTHERN FUR SEAL and the expected CALIFORNIA SEA LION, HARBOR SEAL and SEA OTTER making this the first trip ever that saw no dolphin species! They were all over the place two days prior.

Also seen:

Brandt's Cormorants
Western Gull
Heermann's Gull
California Gull
Common Loon
Brown Pelican
Caspian Tern

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds


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Photos copyright © 2006 Jeff Poklen, all rights reserved.

Last updated August 16, 2006