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June 2018 Texas Pelagic Update

Hi Seabirders, It’s been a good couple of weeks for sign-ups for the two upcoming 2018 Texas Pelagic trips. 1. The August 31st trip from Port Aransas is now FULL and I am beginning to accumulate a waiting list that so far has 5 people on it with a few more “checks in the mail” on the way. 2. The September 22nd trip from South Padre Island still has a 16 spaces available with a few more checks in the mail. It’s impossible for me to predict how long the spaces will last but if I were you and you’re thinking about signing up I wouldn’t procrastinate too much longer. I filled the last 25 spaces on the August 31st trip in just the last 10 days, TRUE FACT! I am going to be out of the country beginning July 4th so I won’t get all my accumulated registration mail until I return at the end of July. So If you’ve mailed in your forms please hang on for your confirmation until I return. Folks will be registered in the order of the postmarked dates on their envelopes. It is gratifying to me to see that my trips this year have attracted a large number of first time Pelagic birders. There is no better place to try out a pelagic trip than in your home state to see how much it appeals to you. Many or maybe most of the birders who do their first pelagic in Texas go on to seek out pelagic birding trips across the nation or even the world. Once you get the bug for Pelagic birding it can become an obsession, like it has for me, and many other Texas birders. Here is a link to the 2018 schedule  The sign up link and info is on that...

2018 Texas Pelagics Status Update

Hi Seabirders, I’ve had a lot of people sign up in the last couple weeks for our two trips later this summer which is great! But I’m still only about half-way to the minimum needed for the Aug 31st Texas Pelagic out of Port Aransas. Port Aransas hasn’t had very many Texas Pelagics run from here because it is so popular with fisherman many of the charter boats are reluctant to or refuse to charter to pelagic birders for fear of losing fishing customers. The fewer than 5 Pelagic trips run from Port Aransas have all been outstanding. Well except for a late November 2016 trip to chase Black-capped Petrels, but that was a long-shot trip and outside of the traditionally good times for seabirds in offshore Texas. In the past many birders have tried tagging along on fishing trips from Port A to see what pelagic seabirds they might find with mixed results. Fishing trips either don’t get to deep pelagic waters, or spend a lot of time in one place fishing so they are far from optimal for pelagic birding. However a friend of mine who is a birder and a charter fishing boat captain from Port Aransas regularly spots amazing seabirds offshore on tuna fishing trips. This year he’s already reported numerous Brown Boobies and a Brown Noddy, in addition to the regularly expected seabirds From a quick look at the deep sea topography nearest to Port Aransas I can understand why it’s so good for fishing. There are numerous seamounts cored by salt domes on the continental slope here and these huge structures can create deep water upwelling’s that bring food to the surface for fish and of course seabirds. During the 1990’s when Texas Pelagics were being run from Port O’Connor many of these trips covered an area that overlaps with the waters reached...

Texas Pelagics 2017 Schedule Update.

Hi  Pelagic Fanatics, Registrations for this year’s Texas Pelagics trips have been very slow so far this year.  I guess I need to do a lot more reminding our seabirding enthusiasts that the time is at hand to make your plans for this summer’s Texas Pelagics trips. At this point we are however far too undersubscribed to be able to run the July 22nd Texas Pelagic that was planned from Port Aransas, so this trip has been cancelled. I have also decided to make the August 26th trip from South Padre Island a 12 hour trip instead of a 16 hour adventure. The updated schedule can be found here: http://texaspelagics.com/2017-schedule/  WHY GO ON A TEXAS PELAGIC? Short answer – they are a lot of FUN!! If you talk to any of the Texas Pelagic leaders and regulars they’ll probably tell you some of the most amazing bird and wildlife encounters they’ve ever had in the state of Texas occurred on a Texas Pelagic.  Our experiences from 2015 and 2016 indicate that with more frequent coverage by pelagic trips we are much more likely to have a few exceptional Pelagic birding days in the season. This is probably due improving our odds of hitting favorable current, wind and sea conditions for seabirds that occur every so often in the deep Gulf off South Padre.   If you’ve never been on a Texas Pelagic this is the year you should try one or two. If it’s been a long time since you’ve been on a Texas Pelagic come back this year and see how much fun they can be. If you’re afraid of seasickness try using the Transderm Scop patch (prescription needed) and enjoy a day at sea with our great pelagic leaders and groups. These trips are also a great way to spend a hot summer weekend out birding where it...

2015 Trips Status Update

Sign-ups for the 2105 season have been brisk. At this point we have enough people to run 3 trips. And a fourth trip is going ahead even though it’s short on participants because the leaders are really interested in exploring this under-birded season. The June 13th Texas Pelagic will be run even though we are short on participants signed-up. All of our leaders believe this season has good potential so they are all chipping in for full fare to make this trip go. As one of our leaders John O’Brien stated ” I am particularly keen to get an early season trip in because that is the time that corresponds to a very interesting diversity of Pterodroma in North Carolina. We can always hope.” And I agree whole heartedly. I hope some more people will sign-up so we can really reach full participation, but never-the-less we are going. It really is a season that deserves to be explored offshore Texas. The July 11th Texas Pelagic now has almost enough people signed-up that we are ready to call this trip a go. I’m confident that this first ever 16 hour Texas Pelagic from South Padre will get the remaining support it needs to fill the boat. So why not join us for the first Texas Pelagic to explore out to the Camel’s Head Seamount! The August 29th Texas Pelagic is a definite go as we have almost filled the boat and there is only one opening left. This will be the second 16 hour Texas Pelagic run ever to the Camel’s Head Seamount. I’m not aware of a Texas Pelagic that has ever almost sold out so far in advance of the trip date. A good sign I hope. The Sept 19th Texas Pelagic trip has also reached the minimum number of participants needed to make this trip go. There...

Why run a 16 Hour Texas Pelagic?

I don’t think I adequately explained the reason for the two longer 16 hour trips we are scheduling this year. Along the Atlantic and especially the Pacific Coasts deep pelagic waters are much close to shore and easy to reach in a short time. Unfortunately along the Texas Gulf coast the continental shelf is very wide and it takes almost 4 hours to reach the edge of the shelf at South Padre Island even where the continental shelf is at it’s narrowest 50 miles width compared to everywhere else in Texas. So true pelagic waters of depths greater than 600 feet are only birded for 4 hours out of a 12 hour trip. Still we usually see pelagic species that frequently wander up onto the shelf during the other 8 hours during which we are commuting to Pelagic Waters. Twelve hours has typically been a trip length cut-off because of maritime laws that limit a captain to one 12 hour shift. Anything longer requires a second captain on board which adds to the cost. So we tried to make the best of the 12 hour time frame on Texas Pelagics for the past 14 years from South Padre Island. However just beyond the reach of a 12 hour round trip there is a huge seamount called the Camel’s Head. The Camels head rises from great depths of over 4,000 ft to about 2,000′ in just a few miles. I’ve always wondered what could lurk out there that we don’t know about. The Camel’s Head is a well-known tuna fishing area, which to me means there must be seabirds out there too. And if it attracts tuna, then surely whale sharks are present and probably marine mammals as well. We’ve seen Sperm Whales closer in than the Camel’s Head so my guess is that they would be more common on such a prominent feature on...

Preview of 2015 Texas Pelagic Plans

“What’s new and different for 2015?” After years of experimenting with different headings for the South Padre Island Texas Pelagic trips we have settled on a due easterly course to reach the shelf edge in fewer miles and quicker time. The trade off is that on days with rougher sea conditions we have more spray on the windward side of the boat and use more fuel but reaching the shelf edge quicker means more time in DEEP water so it is worth it. In 2015 we will schedule 6 trips, more trips than ever before. A possible 7th trip may be run prior to the RGVBF if there is sufficient demand, to be determined later in the season.  The most trips successfully run in one year was 5 in 2004 by the World Birding Center. It is no coincidence that this was following the Sept 2003 Yellow-nosed Albatross find!  The schedule is not yet finalized and I am not yet taking reservations. We will experiment with two extended 16 hour trips to explore farther out than ever before all the way to the Camel’s Head. The Osprey will be newly refurbished for next year and according to the owner it should be much more comfortable and will offer more amenities. The new osprey will be Coast Guard rated for 100 miles and 70 people. The rear upper deck has been expanded with passenger seating added. It is open and uncovered for superb viewing. Floors are carpeted inside the dry cabin. All exterior decks are rubberized. Will seat 30 inside. New 5-ton A/C Restrooms with A/C Onboard WIFI communication for 2 leaders to broadcast to PA system from anywhere on the boat to speakers which are now located on all sides of the boat. Snack and Drink Bar- Now what will birders do with a bar? Take a Look at the Newly Renovated Osprey After such an exciting finish to...

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