Pelagic Expedition a Huge Success !
Captain Dave and Captain Eric steered the Condor Express out of Santa Barbara Harbor around 7am to start a 10-hour pelagic bird (and mammal) expedition. We were initially greeted with moderate shop and swells from winds blowing robustly in the western Santa Barbara Channel. As the day progressed the seas subsided and most of the day was very calm. It was sunny and we had blue clear water almost everywhere. This expedition took us on a circuit which spent a considerable amount of time working large bird and mammal aggregations (hot spots) between the Harbor and the Santa Cruz Channel. We passed through the SC Channel and visited Gull Island and worked along the northern boundary of Santa Cruz Basin. From this point we continued east and ultimately rounded Anacapa Island and Arch Rock. A brief look at Scorpion Rock on Santa Cruz Island was our last look at land before heading back to the Harbor.
Mammals included: Blue whale, several Humpback whales, a couple of Minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, long beaked common dolphins, a sea otter (at Gull Island), a juvenile elephant seal, a harbor seal (Gull Is.) and so many California sea lions that it was impossible to count. It was a fantastic day for warm blooded animals without feathers.
Birds (I’m doing my best, the Bird lists will come out later this week): bald eagle (Gull Isl), Peregrine falcons, Pomarine Jaeger, Parasitic jaeger, Cassin’s auklets (many), rhinoceros auklets, black vented shearwaters (over 10,000), sooty shearwater, pink footed shearwater, flesh footed shearwater, Bullers shearwater, fulmars, red phalaropes, black oyster catcher, American oyster catcher (Anacapa), pelagic cormorant, Brandt’s cormorant, eared grebes, western grebes, Thayer’s gull, mew gulls (on sandspit), glaucous winged gull, western gull, Bonaparte’s gulls, Heermann’s gulls, surf scoter, white winged scoter.
Fish: breaching shark, sunfish (Mola mola, 3)
You never know what Mother Nature has in store.