MCAS 9/4 Pelagic Boat Trip Report

A brief report on the MCAS boat trip. We found loads of Sooty, Pink-footed, and Black-vented Shearwaters with Humpbacked Whales off Point Buchon in the morning as we heading out for the Santa Lucia Bank. Unfortunately, weather and sea conditions prevented us from going to the bank, so after getting well off Point Buchon we headed back to the feeding activity and then northwest along the 200 fathom line. At our furthest point west we were about 23 miles west of Point Estero and 15.6 miles from Point Piedras Blancas. We returned to the harbor following the 100 fathom line.

This trip had the most jaegers I can recall on a trip out of Morro Bay, with 18 Pomarine, 12-13 Parasitic, 1-2 Long-tailed, and 20 left unidentified. Two South Polar Skuas were seen including one the circled the boat and landed on the water for over ten minutes. Another highlight was the five Black-footed Albatross that came to the boat.

We also saw a couple of Northern Fulmar, 7 Sabine’s Gulls, at least one Red Phalarope among the 100 or so Red-necked Phalaropes, The choppy conditions were not good for alcids, but we managed to see about 100 Common Murres and one Cassin’s Auklet. Overall, 20 different bird species were seen offshore.

Mammal wise, in addition to the Humpbacked Whales, were many California Sea Lions, Common Dolphins, a Sea Otter, and a Sunfish (Mola mola).

Thanks to Morro Coast Audubon for sponsoring the trip, Mike Stiles for organizing it, and my fellow trip leaders Brad Schram, Curtis Marantz, and Wes Fritz.

Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA