Port Aransas TEXAS PELAGIC October 6, 2002

Aboard the Wharf Cat

Subject: Coastal Bend Audubon Society pelagic

Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 07:29:55 -0500

From: Dwight Peake

Richard Gibbons is to be highly commended for organizing a trip against such adversity. I think providence rewarded him for his trials.

He set up the trip for Oct 5, only to have Lili pop up and cancel it. When the storm went east, and the forecast for Oct 5 looked favorable, the boat owner had   already chartered the scheduled boat. He managed to arrange another boat and then gather extra participants at the last minute to arrange a trip for   October 6 on the Warf Cat out of Port Aransas.

Fortunately, the forecast that had predicted Oct 5 to be the calmer day were wrong and on Sunday the prior day’s thunderstorms and wind had dissipated. Although we had   to head into 3 to 4 foot swells as we headed southeast, the wind remained calm all day and once we were able to change course the ride was smooth for the rest of the day.

Apparently, a strong shelf edge front was active because a narrow zone less than 1 to 2 miles wide at the edge of the continental shelf had an amazing abundance of  tuna schools and birds. We went out to water 1200 feet deep, but concentrated   our efforts on the area at the shelf edge.

Black Terns have been recognized as common trans-Gulf migrants over the past decade. Although the numbers of BLTE on shore have gone to practically zero over the past 2 weeks, large numbers are still present offshore. I had not  previously seen mixed flocks of Common Terns and BLTE but that is certainly  what we found. In addition, when the birds were not feeding over the fish schools, these mixed flocks were resting on the water like ducks; their  feathers must be more waterproof than I realized.

Trip sightings:

Cory’s Shearwater 48

Greater Shearwater 1

Audubon’s Shearwater 1

Masked Booby 1

Pomarine Jaeger/Skua 1

Jaeger/Skua,  probable Parasitic 1

Bridled Tern 18

Sooty Tern 2

Magnificent Frigatebird 4

Common Tern 500

Black Tern 2000


Atlantic spotted dolphin 30

Near-shore  Bottled nosed dolphin 2

Most  of the Bridled Terns were sitting on flotsam and let us approach to less than 100 feet as did the Booby. All the birds gave great looks except the Sooty  Terns. Thank-you again, Richard, for arranging such an exceptional trip.

Dwight  Peake




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