Something I’ve been putting off for some time because I’m prone to terrible seasickness, is a pelagic trip to see seabirds. It’s a great way to add new species to your life list, which you’ll understand if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Big Year. In fact, this very boat and its owner, Debi Shearwater, were portrayed in the movie! Debi has been in the business of pelagic tours for 38 years, and I decided to put my seasick self into her capable hands, and head out into the Monterey Bay to see what we could see. My husband and I were enjoying a week in California, and this trip was at the top of my list for things to do, along with a patch behind my ear, of course.
Our boat had 7 trip leaders, all eager to share what they were seeing with the rest of us. Even though the trip was as calm as these trips get, I still found it to be the most challenging photo shoot I’ve ever been on. It’s difficult enough to try to focus a large lens on a moving object, but when the boat is moving up and down also, and it’s difficult to keep your balance, it’s all the more trying. I came home with more than a few bruises from trying to quickly get to the other side of the boat to see a bird, and banging into immovable corners and wooden structures. For most of the 8-hour trip, the skies were overcast, and everything was gray. I bumped up the ISO and shot at anything that came our way, hoping to sort it all out on the computer later, which surprisingly wasn’t too hard. We saw many of those birds in the front of the guide book like albatrosses, skuas, shearwaters, and auklets, which were previously unknown to me. We also saw a multitude of gulls, terns, a few whales, seals, and sea lions! Considering that no one had their heads over the boat in distress, including yours truly, I consider the trip to have been a great success!