It’s Time to Start Planning for 2016 Texas Pelagics!

Reservations for 2016 are now open! I am excited to announce that we are planning to run 7 trips again in 2016.

In 2015 we had what undoubtedly ranks as one of the best years ever for Texas Pelagics. Not only did we successfully run 6 Trips in 2015, the most pelagic trips that have ever been run in Texas in one year! But we also had 2 spectacular trips where we observed 274 and 219 individual pelagic seabirds. These 2 trips tallied the highest number of pelagic seabirds ever seen on a Texas Pelagic from South Padre Island and the highest numbers of pelagic seabirds in almost 20 years. 

The 2015 highlights included:

Manx Shearwater – 1;

Leach’s Storm-Petrels – a record number of ~ 110;

Great Shearwater -1; 

Sabine’s Gull – 1;

Whale Shark -1;

Sperm Whale – 1;

Mesoplodon Beaked Whale -1;

Pygmy/Dwarf Sperm Whale -1;

And if that wasn’t enough we encountered very high numbers for the season of many of the regular pelagic seabirds: 

Audubon’s Shearwater – 75;

Cory’s Shearwaters – 16;

Band-rumped Storm-Petrels – 47;

Magnificent Frigatebirds – 23;

Masked Boobies – 18;

Sooty Terns – 127;

Bridled Terns – 18;

Pomarine Jaegers – 25.

Schedule for 2016 Texas Pelagic Trips:

 We are planning 7 trips again for 2016. The scheduled dates for the all the pelagic trips are firm, except for the RGVBF trip.

Click the above link to learn more about upcoming Texas Pelagic trips, i.e. fares, trip lengths, departure times, spaces remaining, etc.

  1. Sat June 4th (June 11th weather back-up date); 12 hour; S. Padre Island.
  2. Sat. July 23rd; 16 hour; Port Aransas;
  3. Sat. August 27th, 16 hour; S Padre Island
  4. Sat. Sept 17th; 12 hour; S. Padre Island
  5. Sat. Sept 24th; 12 hour; S. Padre Island. (exclusive for Arroyo Colorado Audubon Soc)
  6. Sat. Oct 8th; 12 hour; S. Padre Island
  7. Sat. Oct 31st; 12 hour; S. Padre Island (tentatively with RGVBF)

NEW FOR 2016:   We are planning to run one summer trip from Port Aransas in 2016. The last time Pelagic trips were run from Port Aransas was back in 2002 and 2003, so I think it’s about time we tried Port “A” again. The waters off Mustang Island are more interesting on the continental shelf because of the numerous gas production platforms and the fish and birds they can attract.  The only disadvantage is that it is a slightly longer cruise to the shelf edge so we are planning to run a 16 hour trip to ensure we have adequate time in deep Pelagic waters.

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 indicate that with more frequent coverage by pelagic trips we are much more likely to have a few very good 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 is definitely cooler offshore than it is onshore. If you’re still unconvinced check out the testimonials from our participants and leaders here:

SEABIRDS:   In additional to the seabirds listed above we regularly encounter Red-billed Tropicbird, Sooty Shearwater, Brown Booby, Long-tailed Jaeger and Parasitic Jaeger. We have also accumulated an impressive list of rarities: One trip was fortunate enough to have a mixed species flock that included both Brown Noddy and Brown Booby in the same binocular view/camera viewfinder!  And of course in Sept 2003 we had an incredible Yellow-nosed Albatross encounter! The first record of South Polar Skua was seen in October 2004. Black-capped Petrel and Arctic Tern has been seen twice from Port O’Connor in May and July.  It is exciting possibilities like this that keeps folks coming back for more. There are undoubtedly new discoveries still to be made offshore.

MARINE MAMMALS AND WHALE SHARKS:  And of course, when there aren’t great birds around, sometimes other marine life activity steals the show.  We routinely get Bottlenose Dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins on most trips. We have had frequent encounters with Whale Sharks, like the August 2011 trip where an absolutely monstrous Whale Shark bumped into the boat. Check out the photos of it about half-way through the slide-show from that trip at:

In 2014 on one trip we saw 18+ Sperm Whales, some right next to the boat, and 250+ Melon-headed Whales that also circled the boat. These are some of the amazing wildlife encounters you may experience on a Texas Pelagic.

SIGN-UP SOON FOR EARLY BIRD DISCOUNTS:   It really helps us with planning and outreach if people sign-up early . We offer discounts for Pelagic birders to register early and pay more than three months in advance of a departure date.

Unfortunately our Charter boat prices have increased significantly over 2015’s rates. We’ve done our best to keep the fare per person reasonable but we’ll need to have more people sign up per trip to do that. To help keep costs down for everyone all of our leaders have agreed to pay at least half fare for all trips this year.

More information on these trips, logistical considerations and sign-up instructions can be found here:


Information on Texas Pelagics in general (including photos from previous trips and what species can be expected) can be found at here:

Also there is a Facebook page for Texas Pelagics.

Please check these out for more information as well.

I hope you’ll join us.

Gary Hodne

The Woodlands, TX


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