Tuesday, December 8, 2020

December 5 Pelagic Trip Report and Highlights

As we prepared for our last pelagic trip of 2020, we were challenged by a constantly changing forecast, and ended up having to choose between high winds (25 kts) but lower swells (6 ft) on Saturday, and lower winds (10 kts) but much higher swells (12 ft) on Sunday. Our skipper felt certain that the worst winds would not come in until the afternoon, so we opted for less boat movement (lower waves) and went out on our scheduled date of Saturday the 5th. We did not have the calmest conditions of the year, but passengers coped very well, even during a rather rough trip back to the bay. While we did not see any true rarities, we had a good day. Although close views of most species proved elusive, a couple of participants managed to see five species of shearwaters including an out of season FLESH-FOOTED (photographed) and two late BULLER’s (very distant and seen by few). We tallied two albatross species, scattered BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS through much of the trip, and a single LAYSAN ALBATROSS at the one fishing boat we came across (nope, sadly no Short-tailed Albatross). Other noteworthy sightings included a late TUFTED PUFFIN, and great views of sitting ANCIENT MURRELETS. But the highlight of the trip for many of us were the two BLUE WHALES that uncharacteristically passed close to the boat. The sighting of the world’s largest animal was followed later by a sighting of the world’s second largest animal, two FIN WHALES. Two groups of curious Dall's porpoises did not come in to ride the bow as they sometimes do, but were welcome additions to the day's sightings. Overall, the conditions turned out to be better than forecast, with the higher winds and larger waves arriving later in the day, and any day in winter we can get out on the water is a good day. After a challenging 2020, Oregon Pelagic Tours is looking forward to a hopefully more relaxed and enjoyable 2021. We hope to see you on the ocean next year.