S. Padre Is Sept 22, 2018 TRIP REPORT

I was obsessively watching the marine weather forecast in the week leading up to this past Saturday’s TX Pelagic from South Padre Island and NOAA had been consistently forecasting 2 to 4 foot seas for Thursday through Saturday. A frontal system in West Texas wouldn’t be reaching the Gulf Coast until early next week, but by Wednesday the winds and seas started increasing from 1 foot to 4+ feet ahead of the front. So on Friday as I (and everyone else) was preparing to leave for the 400 mile drive to S. Padre Island I was happily surprised to see that Friday morning’s 4:00 AM marine forecast for Saturday was revised and now predicted seas of 2 feet or less! Someone on the night shift at NOAA thought the front had stalled to the west. Well that marine weather forecast turned out to be a “False Alarm”. On Saturday at 4:30 AM as 47 seabirders gathered at the Osprey dock we were looking at seas that would start out in the 4 foot + range. Anything over 5 feet and we usually wouldn’t run trips. It was forecast to calm down by midday however so we went ahead. Similar to the last trip from Port Aransas for about one third of the participants this would be their first Pelagic experience, I always hope they aren’t disappointed.  Seabird activity started early soon after sunrise with 4 Magnificent Frigatebirds and a Parasitic Jaeger at the first and only shrimp boat we visited on the way out. The morning’s activity continued with a lone Cory’s Shearwater and then a Masked Booby that circled the boat a few times to see if we were at all interesting giving everyone great views and photo ops. A few singles and a pair of Audubon’s Shearwaters gave decent views. A Brown Booby came in to investigate us allowing...

Port Aransas Aug 31, 2018; TRIP REPORT

On Friday August 31 we ran our third Port Aransas Texas Pelagic aboard the Kingfisher party boat from Deep Sea HQ. This was also our first Texas Pelagic in almost 2 years since no trips in 2017 managed to get enough participants to run. So it was satisfying to have a ‘GREAT’ day for seabirds. Not only was the weather about perfect with only 2 ft seas early in the day ‘calming down’ to 1 foot seas by the afternoon, but the seabirds put on a great show. A Brown Booby at 7:30 AM was almost the first bird we saw and it followed the boat for about 30 minutes. The booby was foraging for flying fish that the boat scattered from its path. It made numerous chases and dives after many flying fish narrowly missing its prey many times before it finally managed to snag a few flying fish meals. It was exciting to watch this action at close range. The booby was often so close pacing with the boats speed that people could get selfies with the booby from their smart phones. At one point another Brown Booby or two approached the stern to investigate us but didn’t hang around long. I guess the booby had finally had its fill of flying fish and eventually flew off. As usual we saw a large number of flyingfish. There are a few different species in the Gulf but frankly I never try to identify the species. Maybe a few of the seabirders who spent some time photographing them can work on identifying the species in their photographs. However I did see one flying fish I’ve never seen before it was a small “Sargassum Flyingfish” and is was orange as the Sargasso we often see. Well after a bit of searching I discovered this is actually the juvenile stage and...