This could be an interesting pelagic season in central California?
In the last few weeks there has been a switch in the waters off central
California, which started cold with all of the food, as one of the fishing
captains described as "squeegeed towards the coast." Specifically talking
about the offshore area between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, now there
is some warm water coming in offshore, while food rich (based on chlorophyll
charts) cold water is also being transported outward creating
temperature/food breaks offshore. If conditions like this continue, it could
be a good year to see some Pterodroma petrels (Cook's and Hawaiian)
offshore! We shall see. Last year we headed to water conditions that looked
good for petrels and saw Hawaiian Petrel on two occasions from trips out of
Half Moon Bay.
Already on a trip we operated in early May we saw some unusual
conditions. For one, an Ancient Murrelet nearly at spitting distance from a
Brown Booby! Cold water meets warm. One of the few May records of Scripp's
Murrelets in San Mateo County occurred, with the captain mentioning there
had been other murrelet sightings while salmon fishing in that time period.
Paul Lehman reported unseasonal Scripp's from offshore Monterey as well.
Local fishing boats have been recording warm water forage fish around,
including some species they had not recorded for many years. It may be a
year that is not average out there, although admittedly it is difficult to
say what average is on the ocean today!
Our trips are booking fast, but there is still room. Our summer-fall
season begins on July 21st from Half Moon Bay. We will be heading to the
Pioneer Canyon (San Mateo and then San Francisco waters), and if conditions
are there we will be eagerly looking for Cook's Petrel. You never know.
Please send me an email or pay directly with Paypal to book.
We have several trips out of Half Moon Bay this year, as well as Monterey
and Bodega Bay. The schedule can be found here:
and circumnavigations of the Farallon Islands are here:
We are new on the California pelagic scene, but are growing quickly! The
reason for this is that people are coming on our trips and leaving with
smiles on their faces. We try hard to not only find great birds, but teach
about the birds, the ocean, marine mammals while coaching on how to tell
these creatures apart in the field. Alvaro just returned from co-teaching a
tubenoses workshop off Cape Hatteras with George Armistead, (with Brian
Patteson and Kate Sullivan on the Stormy Petrel II of course) as part of the
IFO program of the American Birding Association; we will be doing a similar
program next year in California. We will also be hosting trips for the Santa
Clara Valley Audubon Society, Farallons Marine Sanctuary Assn. Beachwatch
project, and the Gay Birders of North America this year - and look forward
to working with other groups (just send an e-mail).
See you on the ocean!