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 the seafloor.

So the objective of the 16 hour trips is too make it out to the Camel’s Head about 76 miles offshore into much deeper water than we have ever run Texas Pelagics previously. These trips should also yield about 8 hours in Pelagic waters twice as long as our standard 12 hour trips. This is a bit of an experiment to explore so far offshore. But if you have the stomach for a real exploratory birding adventure then this is surely it. I hope you will consider joining us.

We are running these trips in time frames where we have the greatest probability for calm seas, but of course that is no guarantee.


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