Texas Pelagics

"It's Not Just Birding, It's an Adventure"


by | Nov 17, 2021


I have a very exciting announcement to make! I have chartered for the MV Fling boat out of Freeport TX for a 48 hour offshore Texas Pelagic! The dates are June 1-3, 2022.

Freeport has seen only a couple of pelagic trips run from there back in 1998-99, and both were overnight trips onboard the MV Fling. My plan for this 48-hour trip is to search the eastern continental slope of Offshore Texas in waters up to 6,000 feet deep and 160 miles offshore. This area is to the east of waters typically searched from Port Aransas. It is an area of the continental slope that has the most extremely varied bathymetry in offshore Texas due to the numerous salt domes found here.

The very-deep offshore continental slope beyond 100 miles from shore is the LAST FRONTIER of Texas Pelagic birding and has rarely been birded. It is the domain of long-range tuna fishing boats that routinely go 100 – 200 miles plus offshore on 48 to 72 hour long trips. A few intrepid birders have rode along as passengers on these tuna trips and have found some good seabirds, but these tuna trips are far from ideal for pelagic birding.

Being this far east and being out in very deep water for one and a half days gives us increased chances of finding a few very rare low-density Texas seabirds like the Black-capped Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and Red-footed Booby. And of course there are many other rare possibilities like Great Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and Red-billed Tropicbird to name just a few. Not to mention all the regular Texas Seabirds we are more accustomed to: Band-rumped and Leach’s Storm-Petrels (prime season for storm-petrels); Audubon’s, Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwaters; Bridled and Sooty Terns (again prime season for them), Masked and Brown Boobies, Magnificent Frigatebirds and all the Jaegers.

This will take place from 6:00 pm Wednesday June 1 until  Friday June 3rd. The course I have planned (see the insert below) will start from the dock in Freeport with an 7:00 PM departure. After cruising all night we will greet the dawn sunrise on Thursday at a point about 20 miles southwest the Flower Gardens West Bank beyond the shelf edge in about 1,800 feet water depth. We will spend all of Thursday’s 14+ hours of daylight (6:18 AM sunrise to 8:07 sunset) in deep waters cruising beyond the shelf edge in waters up to 6,000 ft deep. We will spend Thursday overnight in deep waters. We awaken on Friday to first lights birding activity in very deep waters. We will gradually wind our back north towards the shelf edge searching for seabirds and marine life for another 5+ hours in deep water planning to be at the shelf edge by 11 am. From there it’s a 70 mile cruise back to Freeport with stops a shrimpers for more seabird action. Returning to the dock by 6:00 PM Friday.

If addition there will be an opportunity to snorkel in deep water should we be lucky and encounter a whale shark, a pod of dolphins or small whales like Short-finned Pilot Whales! Or if not we could snorkel near Sargassum mats to look at the fish associated with the Sargassum community. So bring your snorkeling gear and U/W camera.

We can take 32 seabirders max as there are 30 bunks. The cost per person will be $600.00, with all meals included. Two couples can share a double bed bunk at a discounted cost of $500 each. I think that is a real bargain considering that a trip to S Padre Island would cost at a minimum the pelagic fare plus 2 nights in a motel or close to $400 already not including gas and food. If you live near Houston or Corpus you could easily do this trip without needing a motel.

All food and drinks are supplied. They provide wholesome meals and snacks throughout the day. For a complete rundown on the rules while on board the Fling click here for the Fling FAQ . You can ignore the parts that refer to diving.

Click here to Register and Make Payment.

The planned course for this pelagic is shown by the dashed lines. Segment A: Wednesday nights cruise; Seg B: Thursday’s cruise; Seg C: Thursday night’s drift area; Seg D: Friday morning’s cruise; Seg E: Friday afternoon’s cruise beck to the dock. The colored bathymetry is derived from high resolution 3D seismic surveys and illustrates the extremely varied seafloor. The U-shaped feature in the lower center is called the Horseshoe Basin where water depths exceed 6,000 ft.