The annual voyage on Searcher departed Monday Sep 7th from San Diego. Highlights from day 1 in San Diego and Los Angeles County included a single LEAST STORM-PETREL, a couple of TOWNSEND"S STORM-PETRELS and an adult NAZCA BOOBY as well as the usual species.
Tuesday we started our day on the Osborne Bank and worked our way to Santa Barbara Island where we checked Sutil Rock for boobies. Just off the island we had a few CASSIN"S AUKLETS. About 80 BROWN BOOBIES were there, plus a single continuing BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY, which may have bred with a Brown and produced a hybrid chick. We are reviewing photos of the possible hybrid. a young MASKED/NAZCA type Booby was also seen on this day along with ASHY, BLACK, and LEAACH's STORM-PETRELS.We also saw a few CRAVERI'S MURRELETS, as well as all the JAEGERS and SOUTH POLAR SKUA. We anchored behind San Miguel Island.
Wed we worked west from San Miguel Island to the shelf edge and down over the San Juan Seamount. We had more CRAVERI'S MURRELETS, plus a couple pair of SCRIPP'S MURELETS. about lunchtime we started seeing GUADALUPE MURRELETS, and had another adult NAZCA BOOBY. We were able to study LEACH's and TOWNSEND's STORM-PETRELS at close range on a natural slick, and we saw both light and dark rumped Townsdend's. BLACK_FOOTED ALBATROSS were following the boat in low numbers. over 100 BULLER's SHEARWATERS were out on the shelf.
Thursday we started West of the Cortex Bank and worked our way in from the shelf edge, down the outside od the bank and then across the top. a distant COOK'S PETREL was seen at the shelf edge along with another GUADALUPE MURRELET pair. on top of the bank we hab a LAYSAN ALBATROSS, sporting a red band from Guadalupe Island. While wartching the LAYSAN at point blank range, another young NAZCA/MASKED type BOOBY joined the fray. We worked out way east and got into some BLUEFIN TUNA, with lots of COMMON and ARCTIC TERNS. a few SABINE"S GULLS and hundreds of PINK_FOOTED SHEARWATERS. Another COOK'S PETREL flew by the boat giving most a good, if quick look.
Marine mammals included ELEPHANT SEAL, CALIFORNIA SEA-LION, NORTHERN and GUADALUPE FUR-SEALs, COMMON, BOTTLE-NOSED and RISSO's DOLPHINS, HUMPBACK, BLUE, and FIN WHALES.
We did not see RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD, only the second time in 17 years we have missed this species. All in all a great trip. My thanks to Searcher Natural History Tours for running these trips, my co-leaders Dave Pereksta and Dave Povey, and the intrepid group of participants. It was truly an adventure. Smoke and haze was present 150 miles offshore, but otherwisse the weather was generally good.
Now safely back in TEXAS.