The weather was typical and atypical for summer. Typical in the slick calm waters we found over 30 miles offshore with scattered grass, and atypical in the cooler north winds we've been experiencing this summer. Friday's trip actually had some light north breeze for most of the day! Saturday was more typical since the wind had shifted to light south early that morning. Sunday was forecast to be breezy, but there was just a moderate south west wind offshore. Each day the Gulf Stream was a little different, but there was sargassum way offshore in the deep - usually good conditions for finding a tropicbird or two...though not this time! We found Sunday's Fea's Petrel around 1230 on a nice edge with an organized grassline way offshore in the deep. The bird passed a Cory's Shearwater and then continued flying languidly along the line. We picked up speed and attempted to get closer to it, and though we pursued it at close to 20kts for awhile, it was effortlessly moving too fast for us to catch!
Calm seas are good for cetaceans and these trips were no exception! Friday we found a Sperm Whale just after noon; it was a bit far and dove before everyone had a good look at it. Just moments later, one of our participants spotted another individual much closer to the boat.
This was the first Brian has ever seen, needless to say it was my first as well. These gorgeously adorned sea turtles are typically found on reefs, but this individual was way offshore in the deep! We stopped to spend some time taking photos and soon had schools of fish swimming around us and our chum - it was better than dipping sargassum for a quick lesson! Later that day a Kogia was spotted on the surface. For those who are not familiar with these animals, there are two species, Pygmy Sperm Whale & Dwarf Sperm Whale, either would be a possibility offshore here. Notoriously difficult to see, they can be distinguished by the shape of their dorsal fin. Each species will "log" on the surface and then sink without much provocation - this Pygmy Sperm Whale stayed on the surface for quite a time and then dove giving us enough time to get some identifying photos!
Thanks to everyone who made the trip to Hatteras to go offshore with us this long weekend! We could not get out there without you and it seemed that everyone who joined us had a great time. It helped to have nice weather and some cooperative birds in spite of the low numbers! Trip lists are on our website here A short youtube video of the Hawksbill Turtle is here! All photos by Brian Patteson & Kate Sutherland
Here you can see how calm it was!
One of our Audubon's in the slick
We found one Bridled Tern on Saturday perched on a well used cushion!
Bridled Tern in flight - adult
An interesting looking Sooty Tern adult with a few feathers missing!
Micro Tropicbird...we saw Least Terns every day offshore!!
While we only caught one Wahoo over the three days, we did hook a few more fish! Here is one of the Mahi that we hooked on Saturday.
Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps) diving
Another view of the same Sperm Whale on Friday's trip
Two more images of the Hawksbill Turtle!