Sunday, April 25, 2010


25 April: At Sea, east of the Ogasawara Islands, including Chichi. What a
difference a night can make! We awoke to much cooler temperatures, both sea
and air. Winds were buffeting us and frothing whitecaps covered the seas
while occasional rain showers sent us inside to the bridge. Many seabirds
were about, including good numbers of pale morph Wedge-tailed Shearwaters
and Bonin Petrels. Most of us were hoping to see Tristram's Storm-Petrels.
Finally, several flocks of storm-petrels were spotted, ahead of the ship.
Amongst the Matsudaira's, we saw quite a few Tristram's Storm-Petrels! The
vast majority of the seabirds do not approach the ship, remaining quite a
distance away from ideal viewing conditions. This sometimes makes
identification quite challenging. In fact, many species of both seabirds and
marine mammals are best left unidentified! Case in point— yesterday's call
of Bannerman's Shearwaters may not, indeed have been Bannerman's at all. The
jury is still out, but they may well have been Tropical Shearwaters, based
on photographs. In addition, distant breaching whales which were identified
as Humpback Whales, were correctly identified, using photographs, as Sperm
Whales! Such is ocean life— "identification by camera"! The first
Black-footed Albatrosses of the voyage appeared in the late afternoon.
Shortly, afterward, John Graham of South Africa spotted a Short-tailed
Albatross! Along with Trevor Hardaker, John operates, Zest For Birds a
company that takes folks offshore to the rich feeding grounds of seabirds
off South Africa. John has been one of the best
spotters on our entire voyage! One of our staff began some chumming which
attracted hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a few Streaked
Shearwaters. Soon many Black-footed Albatrosses were also following in the
wake. The surprise was two Laysan Albatrosses which followed our wake for
quite some time. Laysans have not been recorded on every voyage. So, cheers
went up for that one! Although only a few on board saw the Short-tailed
Albatross, any day in the north Pacific with three albatross species is a
day to cheer!
Debi Shearwater, east of Ogasawara Islands, Western Pacific Odyssey

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