Skua, Sabine's Gulls & Breaching Humpback Whales, Oh My!
Shearwater Journeys's August 15 pelagic trip started off with fireworks and ended with a grande finale! Monterey's seabirds were putting on a show by 8 a.m. with ELEGANT TERNS, below, feeding noisy, begging youngsters and flocks of thousands of SOOTY SHEARWATERS just outside of the harbor along with over thirty HUMPBACK WHALES. It was quite an image of marine bounty! Amongst the thousands of Sooty Shearwaters, were hundreds of BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATERS. Soon, we spotted a group of RISSO'S DOLPHINS, flocks of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, and the first of a few RHINOCEROS AUKLETS. Offshore marine life was quiet, but this is where we found SOUTH POLAR SKUA and a small flock of SABINE'S GULLS, including the first juveniles of the fall season. A single CRAVERI'S MURRELET instantly flew off. Returning to the harbor along the Pacific Grove coastline, we ran into more Humpbacks, including one small individual that repeatedly breached, putting on a grand finale show much like the last fireworks of the evening on the 4th of July! Whale watching was superb and Monterey seabirds pulled out all the stops!
RISSO'S DOLPHINS have been observed on almost all of our trips. They feed on squid.
There has been loads of squid around, both Monterey Bay and Half Moon Bay.
RISSO'S DOLPHIN calf in foreground showing the steely-gray, unscarred body.
RHINOCEROS AUKLET, even in silhouette, the flat head is prominent, unlike a puffin which has a rounded head. The horn is even visible in this image. The horn is grown during breeding season. These auklets excavate a burrow underground for nesting. The horn wears down in the excavating process.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, the inshore phalarope species.
SABINE'S GULLS, above, first of the season juvenile on left.
HUMPBACK WHALE off Pacific Grove on our return to the harbor.
Repeatedly breaching HUMPBACK WHALE!
Just like the grand finale at a 4th of July fireworks celebration!
This was a small HUMPBACK, even so, note the very long pectoral flippers, distinctive on an Humpback Whale.
WHALE WATCHING boats watching the breaching HUMPBACK WHALE!
Spy-hopping HUMPBACK WHALE
Mouth of the HUMPBACK WHALE, slightly open. Notice the throat pleats which can expand when feeding, and many barnacles on the lower jaw, and the distinctive nobs on the top of the head.
HUMPBACK WHALE, sounding in front of the whale watching boat.
All images, copyright, Sophie Webb.
Please do not use without permission.
Many thanks to all of the folks who joined us from near and far.
The leaders on this trip were: Todd McGrath, Sophie Webb, Rick Fournier, Jennifer Green, Jim Danzenbaker, John Sorensen, and Debi Shearwater. We headed southwest off the Monterey Submarine Canyon. The Sea Surface Temperature was an even 63F throughout the day — like a big bathtub.
THE COMPLETE SPECIES LIST FOR SHEARWATER JOURNEYS'S MONTEREY BAY PELAGIC TRIP, AUGUST 15, 2014 FOLLOWS:
ALL RECORDS FOR MONTEREY COUNTY
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS- 11
PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER- 66
SOOTY SHEARWATER- 7650
BLACK-VENTED SHEARWATER- 450
BROWN PELICAN- 25
BRANDT'S CORMORANT- 309
PELAGIC CORMORANT- 2
WANDERING TATTLER- 1
BLACK TURNSTONE- 2
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE- 154
SOUTH POLAR SKUA- 1
JAEGER SP.- 2
HEERMANN'S GULL- 65
CALIFORNIA GULL- 6
WESTERN GULL- 139
SABINE'S GULL- 8, including juveniles
ELEGANT TERN- 93
COMMON MURRE- 280
PIGEON GUILLEMOT- 8
CRAVERI'S MURRELET- 1
CASSIN'S AUKLET- 1
RHINOCEROS AUKLET- 11
SEA OTTER- 4
CALIFORNIA SEA LION- 200
HARBOR SEAL- 2
HUMPBACK WHALE- 30 to 35
RISSO'S DOLPHIN- 22
DALL'S PORPOISE- 3
OCEAN SUNFISH- 10
BY-THE-WIND-SAILORS- some, not as many as on July trips
UPCOMING MONTEREY BAY TRIPS & LEADERS
AUG. 22: Scott Terrill, Rick Fournier, Jennifer Green
SEP. 5: Rick Founier, Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green
SEP. 6: Scott & Linda Terrill
SEP. 9: Rick Fournier, Tom Johnson
SEP. 10: Tom Johnson
SEP. 11: Jennifer Green
SEP. 12: Tim Miller, Dena Spatz
SEP. 13, ALBACORE: Scott & Linda Terrill, Jennifer Green
SEP. 14: Clay Kempf
SEP. 25: Jon Dunn, Nick Levendosky, Jim Danzenbaker
SEP. 26: Kenn & Kimberly Kaufman, Scott & Linda Terrill
SEP. 27: Scott & Linda Terrill, Jim Danzenbaker, Jennifer Green
SEP. 28: Rick Fournier, Marissa Ortega-Welch, Courtenay Ray
OCT. 4: Nick Levendosky, Jennifer Green
OCT. 11: Nick Levendosky, Rick Fournier
Debi Shearwater will be co-leading on all trips
Shearwater Journeys has many pelagic seabird trips departing from HALF MOON BAY (next one, August 23), and BODEGA BAY (September 1 & 19).
BREACHING HUMPBACKS FOREVER,