Date: 9/5/17 7:18 pm From: DEBRA SHEARWATER <debi...> [SFBirds] <SFBirds-noreply...> Subject: [SFBirds] OFFSHORE: SEP 3 SF COUNTY SEABIRDS
Shearwater Journeys just had three pelagic trips this past weekend: September 1 from Monterey and September 2 and 3 from Half Moon Bay. There has been a strong southerly flow happening offshore. We first detected this flow on our September 2 Half Moon Bay trip when BLACK STORM-PETRELS showed up. The current was coming up from the south. A somewhat lazy southerly wind blew up. On September 3, the breeze was still going in the morning, but died down while we were out by noon. Even though we were offshore, it was still a warm day. Sea surface temperatures exceeded 64 F!
Oh, what a difference a day makes! The inshore rafts of SOOTY SHEARWATERS had moved up to Pacifica. So, we headed offshore straight away. The inshore waters have been army-green colored with lots of plankton. Offshore, the water color turned to deep aqua-blue— albacore water! Indeed, the fishermen who were already out some 35 miles, caught a fair amount of albacore. One fisherman even caught an opah, a beautiful fish also known as the “moonfish.” (There’s a sunfish and a moonfish!)
One of the highlights of our day was a very splendid GUADALUPE MURRELET spotted by leader, Peter Pyle. Many photographs were made of this little gem. Of all the murrelets, this one is the most difficult to see in central and northern California. Later, we spotted two SCRIPPS’S MURRELETS. Again, all on board had excellent views. Many photographs were made. One person shot 2,700 images! All of the murrelets were in San Mateo County.
Near the weather buoy we saw and smelled a fish oil slick. Slicks such as this are naturally made by sea lions when they kill fish. So, coming upon such a slick is all part of the natural offshore world and not at all mysterious. BLACK, ASHY (both San Mateo and San Francisco Counties) and WILSON’S STORM-PETRELS were feeding over this slick. Other offshore slicks I have observed involved killer whales killing a sea lion. That made a big, stinky oil slick!
We recorded most of the seabirds typical of this season including: BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS; NORTHERN FULMAR; PINK-FOOTED, BULLER’S, SOOTY SHEARWATERS; POMARINE, PARASITIC and LONG-TAILED JAEGERS; RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES; SABINE’S GULL; ARCTIC and COMMON TERNS; CASSIN’S and RHINOCEROS AUKLETS. We recorded birds in both San Mateo and San Francisco Counties.
It seemed that many of the whales had moved northward with the flow as well. Nevertheless, we managed to see BLUE, FIN, and many HUMPBACK WHALES and PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS very nicely.
I forgot to report a very exciting observation of a drone at sea which we saw on September 2. This was Saildrone #1006 which was deployed from the San Francisco area on September 1. It is on a NOAA mission, heading to the Equator to monitor for El Nino!
We have a lot of upcoming trips with spaces available! I hope you can join us! For a reservation, email me: <debi...>
HALF MOON BAY TRIPS: covering both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties
SEP 15 with Christian Schwarz, Debi Shearwater
SEP 16 with Steve Hampton, Tim Miller, Abe Borker, Debi Shearwater
Living the Salt Life and SeaBirding for Science,
Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
PO Box 190
Hollister, CA 95024
Celebrating 42 Years of Seabirding with Shearwater Journeys
Siberia’s Forgotten Coast & Spoon-billed Sandpiper-2019
Galapagos Islands: 30 October - 12 November 2019