A Fantastic First for Avian Observers

From the Observers on Okeanos Explorer:

Here’s a little synopsis of some of our data and highlights for 23-31 Aug 2013:

The August EcoMon Survey marks the first time avian observers have been aboard the Okeanos Explorer to collect seabird data. The heavy fog has hampered our efforts recently but we have nonetheless had a fantastic cruise, so far. We’ve seen close to 6000 birds, predominated by Great Shearwaters and storm-petrels. Leach’s Storm-Petrels have been more abundant than Wilson’s Storm-Petrels with 388 and 313, respectively. Other fairly common species being seen most days are Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Pomarine Jaeger, and both Red-necked and Red Phalaropes.

two bird observers on bridge

Our two marine bird and mammal observers, Glen Davis (standing) and Nicholas Metheny (seated), at their observation post on the bridge wing of the Okeanos Explorer. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NEFSC/NOAA

Our overall species diversity has been fantastic, perhaps not surprising by the diversity of areas we are covering on this cruise. Seeing five Barolo’s Shearwaters has been absolutely thrilling! Three of these were seen plunging at the surface for fish close to the vessel. Five Great Skuas, 16 South Polar Skuas, two unidentified skuas, and five each of Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers round out the Stercorariid clan. Good things are seeming to come in fives. Five is also the number of passerine/landbird species we have had aboard: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Tree Swallow, Cedar Waxwings, Black-and-white Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow. One of the waxwings, a juvenile, showed up early three mornings ago, in a light fog, and looked very exhausted. It immediately gobbled up smashed up berries and grapes from the hand! It continued to munch on these for a few hours and wasn’t seen later in the afternoon. We hope you had a little luck (along with that north-tailwind) on your side, buddy!

The adventurous migrations over the North-western Atlantic was also in evidence by sightings of Lesser Black-backed Gull, Ruddy Turnstone, and a flock of 53 American Golden-Plovers.

Marine Mammal sightings have been great as well. We’ve seen a Sperm whale loafing as the Okeanos Explorer drifted by, Risso’s, Bottlenose, and Common dolphins, Pilot whales, as well as Minke, Fin, and Humpback whales! Maybe someone can ID this individual?

humpbaclk whale flukes

Humpback whale tail flukes with distinctive and unique black and white pattern visible. Photo by Glen Davis, CUNY

Nicholas Metheny and Glen Davis, EX1305 bird observers

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