Report of Baird’s Beaked Whale and Guadalupe Fur Seal from Southern California
This is a second-hand report of two good species from Southern California, but neither can be chased (unless you have a private yacht). Just as well — Jon Hall is out of leave time anyway. For next year, though, there is apparently a five-day pelagic trip from San Diego in mid-September whose by-catch includes marine mammals. It spends the week going from seamount to seamount, looking for bird concentrations. The boat is the Searcher and the boat’s website is “Bajawhale dot com.” It has just come back from a great week (in birding terms) and the posted report includes an offshore site with “cooperative Baird’s Beaked Whales” and Guadalupe Fur Seals that were “seen regularly.” The report comes from reliable pelagic birder Todd McGrath, and his email (( I hope he doesn’t mind being outed )) is SKUA (( at )) MSN (( dot )) COM. Offshore, California wildlife is still influenced by warm water from two years ago, which among other things means up to 90+ Brown Boobies can be seen at once, Nazca Boobies turn up almost every week in the birding reports, and Red-footed Boobies have been noted as far north as San Francisco. In usual weather — and there is no such thing anymore of course — to see one Brown Booby every few years would be a big deal. The success of this September’s trip I think guarantees a repeat trip in 2019; I assume the way to find out about it is to haunt the boat’s website or to keep in touch with San Diego birders. You would need to commit a lot of time just to hope for one species, but I think if you want the whale, this would be the most reliable way to search, and of course there is always the chance for something even more exotic. I am sure these trips are well supplied with long lenses and sharp eyes, and rare cetaceans would be well-documented.
Good luck to us all.
Charles Hood, Palmdale, CA