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A SEA OF LIFE—AND, DEATH

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  • Debi Shearwater
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    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2006
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      >
      > Hello, Seabirders,
      >
      > Shearwater Journey's second fall pelagic trip from Bodega Bay to
      > Bodega Canyon and the Cordell Bank was held on Monday, August 28,
      > 2006. This trip was nothing short of astounding. Highlights included
      > thousands and thousands of feeding SOOTY, PINK-FOOTED, and BULLER'S
      > SHEARWATERS; over 400 ASHY STORM-PETRELS, also feeding, 1 WILSON'S
      > STORM-PETREL, 1 BLACK STORM-PETREL (first of the season), 1
      > FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL (first of the season); all three species of
      > JAEGERS; SOUTH POLAR SKUAS; 1000+ ELEGANT TERNS sitting on the jetty;
      > 1500+ COMMON MURRES; 60 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS; 5 ORCAS making a
      > spectacular kill; more than 40 HUMPBACK WHALES lunge-feeding and
      > flipper-slapping; and hundreds of feeding PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS
      > and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHINS and CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS. It was a
      > feast�not only for the eyes, but also the soul of the sea.
      >
      > We departed Bodega Bay and headed straight for Bodega Canyon, then to
      > Cordell Bank, and beyond to the 1000 fathom line, managing to get over
      > 30 miles offshore. The sea surface temperature ranged from 54-57 F,
      > perfect temperatures for the storm-petrels. The seas were flat-calm,
      > Beaufort 1 for the entire day, and there was very little swell. Skies
      > were uniformly high overcast�excellent conditions. It was cold! Few
      > people could believe that this was summer in California, and all were
      > very bundled up with warm clothes and gloves. (I wished I had my long
      > johns). The colder the sea surface temperature, the cooler the air
      > feels.
      >
      > We encountered many mixed species flocks of shearwaters, some
      > consisting almost entirely of pink-footed and Buller's shearwaters.
      > The storm-petrels were feeding along the edges of the slicks, which is
      > why we did not find any flocks on the water. It is somewhat unusual to
      > see the storm-petrels actively feeding, since they are thought to feed
      > mostly at night. But, the heavy overcast conditions and no sun may
      > have made conditions right for this. While we were watching the
      > storm-petrels, leader David Vander Pluym spotted the dorsal fins of a
      > pod of ORCAS.
      >
      > We followed the orcas for a short time. We had seen a California Sea
      > Lion about five minutes before the orcas were sighted. I was pretty
      > sure that their behavior suggested that they were hunting something,
      > but wasn't sure what it was. Our skipper shut the engine down, while
      > we drifted. Suddenly, the orcas made a bee-line for our vessel coming
      > in from the 10 o'clock position! They went right under the boat, and
      > exited at the 5 o'clock position. Only later, were we able to piece
      > the sea lion together with this behavior. Although I cannot
      > conclusively prove it, I believe that they were chasing the sea lion,
      > as it was trying to save its life by hiding under our boat. Back at
      > the bow, the orcas headed off at the 12 o'clock position, and we all
      > noticed an extremely rancid smell. It was the bite that killed the sea
      > lion! When the orcas next surfaced, a large pool of blood was all
      > around them. Some of the photographs show this. Having seen so many
      > kills over the years, I urged people to be ready with their
      > cameras�and, sure enough, a great spyhop or two by one of the orcas
      > was captured on digital cameras! This was quite a show and we hated to
      > leave, but we did move on.
      >
      > Somewhere off the 1000 fathom line, we encountered the most incredible
      > scene of ocean feeding that I have ever seen in thirtyone years of
      > ocean trips�humpback whales were blowing in nearly 360 degrees around
      > the boat, shearwaters and gulls were carrying fish in their bills,
      > white-sided and right whale dolphins were feeding on the fish that
      > poured out of the gulping whales' mouths, sea lions were rushing in on
      > every front to pick up fish, and storm-petrels were flitting about in
      > all directions. The skipper cut the engine again, and all we could
      > hear was the belching and blowing sounds of the whales' breath,
      > pink-footed shearwaters' "beep" calls, and dolphins breaking the
      > surface of the calm seas. Jaegers would suddenly course in and pound
      > on a Buller's shearwater to give up its fish. Every living creature
      > around us was engaged in a feeding frenzy. It was both dreamy and
      > surrealistic at the same time. In the end, this was a journey that
      > engaged our sense of sight and sound, as well as smell!
      >
      > Our August 15th trip from Bodega Bay also had great amount of
      > wildlife. It seems that this might be just about one of the best
      > places along the coast right now for feeding seabirds and marine
      > mammals. I don't believe that I have ever seen Northern Right Whale
      > Dolphins feeding with Humpbacks, ever, before. I'm not sure that this
      > has been recorded.
      >
      > If you are just itching to get out there and enjoy a trip from Bodega
      > Bay, we do have spaces open on our next trip, September 8th, limited
      > spaces open on September 15 and 24. Please email me, if you are
      > interested in the trips with limited spaces before sending a check. We
      > also have trips from Bodega Bay on October 9 and 13th. The Fort Bragg
      > trip on September 17th can be combined with the Bodega trip on
      > September 15th for a nice weekend. Our Monterey program of trips is
      > about to swing in to full with this Sunday's trip, September 3rd.
      > Spaces are still open on this trip, and the following trips: September
      > 11, 23, 29; October 1, 6, 7, 8, 15, 22, and 28. The following trips
      > have very limited spaces, so please email me prior to sending a check:
      > September 9, 10, 22.
      >
      > The leaders for the August 28th Bodega Bay trip were: Lisa Hug, Steve
      > Howell, David Vander Pluym, and Debra Shearwater. Many thanks to all
      > those folks who joined us for this memorable day, and especially for
      > those who flew in for the trips. The complete species list follows.
      >
      > COMMON LOON-1
      > BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS-23
      > NORTHERN FULMAR-16
      > PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER-2000+
      > BULLER'S SHEARWATER-377
      > SOOTY SHEARWATER-2500+
      > WILSON'S STORM-PETREL-1
      > FORK-TAILED STORM-PETREL-1
      > ASHY STORM-PETREL-430
      > BLACK STORM-PETREL-1
      > BROWN PELICAN-40 offshore
      > BRANDT'S CORMORANT-25 offshore
      > DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT-1 offshore
      > PELAGIC CORMORANT-4
      > RED KNOT-2
      > WANDERING TATTLER-1
      > WHIMBREL-1
      > MARBLED GODWIT-4
      > BLACK TURNSTONE-20
      > SURFBIRD-12
      > LEAST SANDPIPER-1 offshore
      > RED-NECKED PHALAROPE-100
      > RED PHALAROPE-10
      > SOUTH POLAR SKUA-3
      > POMARINE JAEGER-7
      > POMARINE/PARASITIC JAEGER-3
      > LONG-TAILED JAEGER-4
      > JAEGER SP.-1
      > HEERMANN'S GULL-100 on the breakwater
      > CALIFORNIA GULL-70
      > WESTERN GULL-200
      > SABINE'S GULL-15
      > ELEGANT TERN-1000+ on the breakwater
      > COMMON TERN-3
      > COMMON/ARCTIC TERN-6
      > COMMON MURRE-1500+
      > PIGEON GUILLEMOT-60
      > CASSIN'S AUKLET-1
      > RHINOCEROS AUKLET-50
      > CALIFORNIA SEA LION-50 offshore
      > STELLER'S SEA LION-4
      > NORTHERN FUR SEAL-2
      > NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL-2
      > HARBOR SEAL-30
      > HUMPBACK WHALE-40+
      > ORCA (KILLER WHALE)-5 (1 adult male)
      > NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN-400+
      > PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN-500+
      > DALL'S PORPOISE-18
      > OCEAN SUNFISH-6
      > BLUE SHARK-2
      > Pelagia jellies-6
      >
      > Shearwaters forever,
      > Debi
      >
      > Debra Love Shearwater
      > Shearwater Journeys
      > www.shearwaterjourneys.com
      > debi@...
      > PO Box 190
      > Hollister, CA 95024 USA
      > 831/637-8527
      >
      > "Real birds eat squid."�Tony Marr


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