- Interestingly enough we are not seeing any effects from El Nino
presently in the Monterey Bay area. Conversations with local fisherman
and whale watching captains revealed that the warm water has apparently
stalled around Pt. Conception. Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out
on the bay with skipper Richard Ternullo aboard the Seawolf II as he led
a boat load of tourists out on a whale watching excursion. Water
temperature was a normal 58.4 F and seas were about the calmest I've
ever seen (Beaufort 1).
In that we were whale watching from 9 to 1 we did no chumming or chasing
but still managed to see a good variety of the birds to be expected
here, 21 species in all but no rarities to speak of. Highlight was a
Humpback whale that stood on its head right beside the boat waving its
fluke above the surface and as it sank it managed to splash all aboard.
It was like something you'd see at Marine World but with a much larger
animal. All those on board were delighted with their close encounter
with a leviathan. Also seen were several Blue and one Minke whale along
with a good assortment of dolphin species.
Richard has been leading trips on the bay for 28 years now. Sixteen of
those as skipper for Shearwater Journeys, now he mostly leads whale
watching tours but is seabirding all the same. He had what I believe is
the first winter record of Greater Shearwater in CA last January. He
is really looking forward to the upcoming series of pelagic seabirding
cruises with Monterey Bay Whalewatch. http://montereybaywhalewatch.com
In fact he wants to get a new christmas tree to put on top of the
wheelhouse. In the past he's had 104 different landbirds land in the
tree such birds as Lesser Nighthawk and Magnolia Warbler to name a
couple. He's a birder who enjoys the company of other seabirders. Where
we go in the bay Richard will determine by what the conditions are like
and what he learns from consulting the local Albacore fisherman. He'll
look for where the water breaks because in his experience that is where
the birds will be found.
Leaders for the Aug. 25 trip will be Don Roberson who once spent four
months aboard an NOAA vessel observing seabirds in the Pacific and Jeff
Davis who has participated in bimonthly aerial seabird surveys along
the California coast since 1995. He is a Marine Specialist with UC
Santa Cruz and a member of the California Department of Fish and Game's
aerial response team for the Office of Spill Prevention and Response. He
has studied seabirds on the Farallon Islands and was leader of a seabird
research expedition on Midway Atoll for the Oceanic Society. He is
former president of the Santa Cruz Bird Club.
We're having a good turn out of locals signing up and we look forward to
sharing our local treasure with you.
Hope to see you out on the water,
Roger Wolfe for Monterey Bay Whalewatch