Pelagic Lite

Last weekend Jacob and I joined Oregon Pelagic Tours for a short 6-hour pelagic trip out of Newport.  A private group hoping for albatross had set this trip up and some birders like us also crashed the party.  I knew it would probably be too short for rarities but Jacob had never been on a pelagic and I loved that we could do it without needing a dog-sitter.

Yaquina Bay sunrise

We lucked out with fantastic weather and calm seas and zero puking that I saw.  Quite a change from the last pelagic I went on which was apparently four years ago. While we waited to board the boat the sunrise continued to impress.

All week there had been reports of big numbers of Rhinoceros Auklets in Yaquina Bay and we got to see quite a few on our way out. 

There were also Red-necked Grebes, Common Loons, and this Common Murre quite close to the boat.

Outside the bay but while still close-ish to shore we spotted a couple of Marbled Murrelets.

A humpback whale was blowing and diving nearby.

Northern Fulmars were pleasantly abundant on this trip.

Eventually we came across our first Black-footed Albatross sitting on the water, the first of several.

It was decided that we would stop to chum here and soon after Jacob and I spotted a Pomarine Jaeger flying in, our only jaeger of the day.

Someone noticed some fins way out beyond the chum spot.  First a couple of fin whales were seen briefly then some Risso's dolphins!

 Jacob's shot of the fin whales

Risso's dolphins!

We had views of three shearwaters on this trip:  Sooty, Pink-footed, and Buller's. 



 Blurry Buller's

Blue sharks joined the birds at the chum spot.

Friendly fulmar

Friendly Rhino Auklet

We started to head back to shore after a while, stopping for more marine wildlife along the way.

Dall's porpoises

Mola molas! (Ocean sunfish) 

 Cassin's Auklet in the calm water

Northern fur seal

Steller sea lion

Heading back along the jetty we had the usual adorable harbor seals lounging on rocks.

Just stop.

Overall it was a really nice little pelagic trip with some solid pelagic birds and amazing marine mammals.  I even managed a state bird (Cassin's Auklet) and Jacob got four lifers!  Looking forward to getting out there again next year.   Good times!!!


  1. Nice! You could have spent 12 hours and not have had nicer birds or weather!

  2. That could be a Guadalupe Fur Seal? Note the dog like face and short rear flippers.

    1. I actually thought the photo looks more like California sea lion, but this is my only view.

    2. Hmm, I'm not sure. I remember it being called a fur seal, but only assumed northern. Think it was pretty far out to be a California.

    3. This year, off Westport, all the guides were calling them Northern Fur Seal, since that is all we ever see off WA and OR. Someone posted a pic and an expert contacted Scott (expert guide) that they might be seeing Guadalupe Fur Seals. So we all got up on the fine points of ID, and sure enough, I think I saw more Guadalupe than Northern off Washington this year. Probably more screwy ocean conditions. I saw no Guadalupe off Oregon. Northern have that very triangle shaped head and long rear flippers that can bend over to form the cup handle. Guadalupe have more of a snout and much shorter rear flippers. The fur on the front flippers ends in a different spot as well, but none of us where ever able to actually see that feature. The snout does look a bit long for a fur seal, might be a California, but it is not a Northern to me, head and flippers are wrong.

  3. Hi Jen, what a fab day, I had to look up Sunfish to see what it looks like , HUGE fish! So many fine birds, I would love seeing all of them....have not been out in the Ocean on a boat for many years, I would need an entire bottle of Dramamine. Great photo of you two at the end! Have a great week.

    1. It was sooo mellow you probably would have been fine! The sunfish are so crazy, I love seeing them.


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