Oct 6, 2002; Port Aransas: TRIP REPORT
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.
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.
FINAL TRIP LIST :
TOTAL PELAGIC SPECIES – 9
TOTAL PELAGIC SEABIRDS – 73
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
MARINE MAMMAL Sp:
Atlantic spotted dolphin 30
Near-shore Bottled nosed dolphin 2
NEARSHORE SEABIRD Sp:
Common Tern 500
Black Tern 2000
Here is a map of the trip track as recorded by my GPS.
OCEANOGRAPHIC AND WEATHER CONDITIONS:
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