June 24, 1995; Port O’Connor; TRIP REPORT
Aboard the Chip XI
Report Transcribed from 1996 Texas Deepwater Pelagic Trips Newsletter
Copyrighted By: Dwight Peake and Mark Elwonger
Calm Seas and Five State Records!
The June pelagic trip from Port O’Connor will always be remembered by all participants for its slick, glassy seas and excellent visibility, offering great views of a wide v ariety of different marine life. The first of thirty-one Band-rumped Storm-Petrels (a record number for Texas) appeared 30 minutes short of crossing the 100-fathom curve. Guarding this continental boundary was a sailfish, followed two minutes later by several flocks of Band- rumps (totaling 15 in all). The action continued with a pod of whales surfacing a few hundred yards nearby, and Band-rumps continued to appear at half-hour intervals, offering great looks to all observers.
Everyone had ample opportunities to learned the field marks and jizz from close encounters with many Band-rumps in the next few hours. Around noon, a very large shark appeared in one of the numerous schools of feeding tuna. Returning to the Sargasso mats and weedlines near the shelf, where we were surrounded by several pods of over 50 bottle-nosed dolphins, we spotted the first of three Bridled Terns, and a Leach’s Storm-Petrel appeared. Five minutes later, an Audubon’s Shearwater was approached on the surface, allowing good photo documentation of field-marks while sitting and in flight. And shortly afterward, a larger shearwater was spotted in the distance. Pursuit in our 17-knot Chip IX managed to eventually bring us close enough to determine that it was not a Cory’s as originally expected- but a Greater Shearwater for the second year in a row and only the 6th Texas record (when accepted by TBRC).
Returning across the continental shelf, a Leatherback turtle surfaced just feet from our bow to show us its melon-sized head, ridged back, and remora escorts.
FINAL TRIP LIST :
TOTAL PELAGIC SPECIES – 5
TOTAL PELAGIC SEABIRDS – 38
Greater Shearwater – 1
Audubon’s Shearwater – 1
Leach’s Storm-Petrel – 2
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel – 31
Bridled Tern – 3
SEA TURTLE SP:
Here is a map of the trip track as recorded by ships GPS.
OCEANOGRAPHIC AND WEATHER CONDITIONS:
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