We did a Farallon Islands trip today out of Half Moon Bay in superb and calm weather. On the way out a highlight was a Bank Swallow in San Mateo county, along with big numbers of Sooty Shearwaters in Half Moon Bay. At the islands we eventually saw a total of 11 Brown Boobies, including at least two males showing the pale coloration on the head of the Mexican group (brewsteri group) population. One Blue-footed Booby was there, but the Northern Gannet was apparently in Marin County today. Numbers of Tufted Puffins were higher than ever, we saw at least 120, perhaps more! One Scripps’s Murrelet flew by as we approached the island.
Heading offshore a few Black-footed Albatross showed up, but most exciting was able to confirm more Guadalupe Fur Seals here, and that they were outnumbering the Northerns in that offshore water. This is a little known mammal, particularly this far north. It appears that this year they are frequent out here. Another surprise was seeing a Sei/Bryde’s Whale on our way in, either species would be new for us here in these waters. We shall see if we can determine the species based on photos, the very tall fin makes me think it was a Sei whale. There were Ashy and at least one Black Storm Petrel on the way back in. The time spent offshore is short on Farallon Trips, so it will be interesting to see what we can find tomorrow a tad farther south in San Mateo county!
Bait fish were being chased by larger fish by the islands, and it seems that these bigger fish were Bonito. A species that apparently has not been this far north since the last big El Niño.