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Baltimore by the Sea

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Pelagics - Day Two

After the canceled pelagic out of Half Moon Bay with Debbie Shearwater, I drove down to Monterey for a nice sunny trip, again with Shearwater & company.  Sunday's Pelagic - now that was more like it! Started off foggy, but just about the time the deep sea birds showed, so did the sun. Here is what made the whole day a treat plus brownie points - my day's lifers.I did get several shots of this handsome chocolate kiss of a pelagic bird, a lifer for me - a Flesh-footed Shearwater.

My Lifer Flesh-footed Shearwater

One was an infinitesimally tiny bird - an Ancient Murrelet ('ancient' because whispy white feathers on their heads make them look like little old men). I didn't take a photo of the stubborn Murrelet which did not want to stop & sit for its portrait. However I am posting someone else's breath taking photo.

Fleeting Flock of Ancient Murrelets - Photo © Robin Newlin

Now I'm certain, how every pretty the birds are to me, most everyone else will find the following dolphin's far more interesting so I'll start off with them. In the early afternoon, after we pretty much saw all the birds were were going to see, just when I was thinking there were, for once no whales or dolphins anywhere near Monterey, along came the back-up entertainment; a pod of 50 - 60 Risso's Dolphins with a few Northern Right Whale Dolphins and Pacific White-sided Dolphin tossed in for variety.

The Rissos were in high spirits, as seen in the shot below, I got photos of several slapping their ample bottoms on the ocean surface. Do they do that for fun, the noise or are they loosening oh-so-annoyingly-stuck squid farts?

Love this shot for all the action,
to look for Risso faces and bum, click HERE

Rissos haven't the usual dolphin beak, and to me they all seem to be smiling like jack-o-lanterns (this is a good week for doing so). They are born grey, but as they get older they get scratches on their hides and the color wears off in the salt water. OK, that's a lie, but their color does fade as the animals age - generally the whiter the Risso, the older the dolphin.

That Happy Smiling Face!

as the Rissos raced along, I shot my photos rapid fire. When I took the photos all you could see were milling dorsal fins and the odd splashing or blowing. Only looking at the photos at home did I really get a good look at the mini theater a Risso pod is. In my photos I found at least a dozen Risso faces, loads of tails and even a few shots of breaching, which is when a cetacean slaps its entire body on the water surface.

Nice look at a Risso breaching for the hell of it

Below are some nice surprises - cow and calf shots.

Nice proud, grinning white-faced cow and her little calf to her left

A split second later, same cow and calf continue their racing
check out the size difference in their dorsal fins

Here are a couple of group shots taken seconds apart - look on the left, you can see a Mama Risso, her baby's head is up out of the water - in the second shot there is an even better glimpse of baby's face. Remember, none of the animals in the photos are holding still; they're all booking along 10 - 15 miles per hour.

Mama and baby calf both have their head up (left)

Now Mom is down, and the baby gets split second
looks as they rip along through the water

In my photos, I managed to find only one shot of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, but as the shot is crap, I'm not showing it here. I do however have a quickie video of Northern Right Whale Dolphins that rode the bow for maybe 5 minutes or so. It's rough shot, and I flip the camera after a few seconds, but you can see the mini-whales doing their thing as they surface on the run, to blow out the old air and pull in some fresh.

This Video is LOUD!

Ok! That's it for the cetacean circus! Show's over, go away. Now I'm going to post some birdie shots, because - well, because I do love those ocean going birds. I mean, different pelagic species may weigh as little as a short stack of dimes, or as much as a pound and yet they manage to stay alive and hale in all that freezing cold water and NO ONE puts out their food for them - they have to work for it! Isn't that totally amazing? Honestly - it's just astounding.

Not a lifer, but every bit a pretty - Pink-footed Shearwater

Pair of Pink-foot scooting by

Pomarine Jaeger - a bully bird

The only fish I saw all day were Sunfish - Mola Mola. They can get humongous, weighing more than a ton, but this photo shows a baby Mola Mola. It's lying to the right of the gull, like a pancake, with its fin up in the air. They like the gulls to pick vermin from their scales - and the gulls do it too! Click on the Mola Mola for a better look.

A Mola-Mola at its oceanside spa.
raises a fin, requesting some refreshment

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