Pelagic trip report - Sunday July 19, 2015

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hi folks,

   Amazing and gorgeous warm weather on Sunday, with very little swell and wind. We birded partly in San Mateo County and San Francisco counties. The offshore water ranged from 61.5 F to nearly 64F, and was very blue and clear – tuna water. We did not find any tuna. Birds were dispersed, but we did find a fishing boat with approximately 80 Black-footed Albatross in SM county. We scoured them for something different, to no avail. There were a small number of Ashy Storm-Petrels in both counties, and a few southbound Sabine’s Gulls. Surely numbers will pick up later on in the season. Great views of Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, although no heavy or dense concentrations. Food out there appears to be dispersed. Northern Fulmars were scattered about, all first year birds in heavy molt, some of them not looking very healthy. The alcid numbers and distribution was a bit odd. There were precious few Cassin’s and Rhinoceros auklets out there, but many Common Murres. The murres, many males with their chicks, were widespread and maintained well out to a few miles beyond the continental shelf. Usually they tend to stay mainly on the shelf, and also unusual were a few Pigeon Guillemots way out there at 20 miles offshore! Good numbers of fly by Red-necked Phalaropes, although few feeding on the water. A single Pomarine Jaeger in SF, was heading south.

   The absolute best find was a huge BASKING SHARK, anywhere between 16 and 20 feet long. It came up right under the boat, a huge black shadow that was like being in the jaws movie, except for the fact that this gargantuan is a peaceful filter feeder. The pelagic shark research foundation was quite excited about our sighting, mentioning it was the first in these waters in many years. Lots of Humpback Whales were out there, a Northern Fur Seal, a surprise Sea Otter in Half Moon Bay, and great views of a large pod of Pacific White-sided Dolphin. Some folks also saw Northern Right Whale Dolphin. Many Mola mola, the ocean sunfish. It was a super day out, weather good enough to suggest a trip out in the Atlantic, wish we had brought the Margarita machine!

    Trips are filling up fast the July and most of the August trips are sold out or nearing so. If you are interested in the August San Mateo or San Francisco targeted trips, the details are here:


Good birding

Alvaro Jaramillo


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