Santa Barbara Island Pelagic Trip 8/25/2015

I was fortunate enough to go on this all day pelagic birding trip to Santa Barbara Island and back organized by Island Packers. After departing from Ventura Harbor around 8am we quickly started to spot interesting birds such as Red-necked Pharalopes, Cassin's Auklets, and a Northern Fulmar. We continued on to Anacapa to check the arch where we expected to find Brown Boobies, and sure enough we did! We found 7 hanging right there on the arch. Then we set out to further waters towards SBI where we came across Ashy and Black Storm Petrels as well as Long-Tailed Jaegers, and Pink footed and Sooty Shearwaters.

Also on the way out to SBI we came across a large group of Short-beaked Common Dolphins that gave us quite a show as they flew all around us. We got some nice looks at Flying Fish too as we headed for Sutil Rock, a large rock the size of a small island that is often a great place to spot boobies as well. And again, we really hit the jackpot here, we would find 32 Brown Boobies just on Sutil Rock!

We had to make a short stop at SBI to unload cargo and some visiting researchers. And after that we started to head back to Ventura, and on the way back is where we made my favorite discovery of the entire trip, a Laysan Albatros. I have wanted to see a Laysan Albatros for many years now, and more recently even more so because of my admiration for one of the most famous and awesome birds of all time; Wisdom the 63 year old Laysan Albatros that is still laying eggs! We watched this particular albatros for a good while, as she gracefully swerved back and forth just over the waters edge we were able to get some great looks at this magnificent bird.

Other highlights of the trip included seeing a Scripp's Murrelet, a Buller's Shearwater, and recording over 40 Brown Boobies the entire trip. Another boyhood dream was realized upon seeing a Hammerhead Shark that came right up to the boat, letting us look down on this rare visitor to our waters. And it wouldn't be an island trip without any cetaceans, and fortunately we got one quick glimpse of a big Humpback Whale very close to the boat before it took a long dive.

The trip was led by Dave Pereksta, Jon Feenstra, Peter Gaede and Joel Barret of Island packers. Hats off to all of them and the whole IPCO staff for pulling this trip off. It was a long day at sea, but well worth it, and I'll certainly look for more opportunities to go out there again and keep the search going.