This is a reminder that Island Packers is offering a 12-hour deepwater pelagic trip from the Ventura Harbor at 7 am on Sunday July 12. This trip will allow us to get to offshore waters beyond the reach of most day trips where we will have a chance to see a number of outstanding pelagic birds and marine mammals. Our intention is to go south from Ventura towards San Nicolas Island and the banks, knolls, canyons and other productive features in the area. This will give us a chance to look for sought after species like Red-billed Tropicbird, Leach's Storm-Petrel, Townsend's Storm-Petrel, Cook's Petrel, and Craveri's Murrelet. Boats out of San Diego have been seeing Cook's Petrels and Craveri's Murrelets recently, and on a work visit to Santa Barbara Island a few weeks ago I saw a Blue-footed Booby that is acting like it is paired with a Brown Booby (there is a chick in the nest for what that is worth). We will decide what our offshore destination will be after reviewing oceanographic conditions at the time of the trip, which will help determine where the birds and other marine life may be present or concentrated. This trip has been productive the last few years. In 2017 we had Black-footed Albatrosses and Cook's Petrels along with an astounding 45 Craveri's Murrelets. In 2018 we had the first accepted at-sea record of Tristram's Storm-Petrel for the ABA area (!), a Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, Townsend's Storm-Petrels, lots of Cook's Petrels, two Nazca Boobies, and an American Oystercatcher. Last year we had a Manx Shearwater and incredible looks at Townsend's and Leach's Storm-Petrels. Beyond these highlights, we always see a variety of the more expected pelagic species and it is a trip that normally produces lots of birds.
While I would normally go on more about the birds we might see, I am going to focus on safety related to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we plan to run the trip to minimize risk to everyone on board. First, we are running at a reduced capacity to ensure that passengers can sit/stand 6 feet apart. The maximum capacity for the vessel is set at 57 people for this trip, which is 20-25 people less than we normally carry on a pelagic trip (and way lower than the rated passenger capacity for the boat). Masks/face coverings are REQUIRED at all times while on the boat. If you do not believe in wearing masks for some political, religious, or other reason, then this is not the trip for you. The exception is to eat or drink. We ask that when you are eating or drinking to distance one's self 6 feet away from other people not in your party. When eating and drinking remove your mask only sparingly, replacing it between drinks, or bites of food (use your best judgement). We also suggest bringing a few spare masks as you may want to put on a fresh one after several hours. Make sure you can comfortably wear the mask for extended periods of time. In addition, all the tables and handrails will be disinfected before boarding and the restrooms will be disinfected on regularly scheduled intervals. The handrails along the perimeter of the boat are marked at 6-foot intervals to help maintain social distancing while aboard.
The trip will be on an ultra-fast catamaran that features a spacious and comfortable cabin, galley, and excellent viewing from both the upper and lower decks. A full contingent of outstanding seabird leaders will be present to make sure we see all that is out there. The Captain and crew know how to run birding trips and are enthusiastic and helpful. In addition, we work hard to creep up on birds and get them in the right light...photographers will not be disappointed!
Trips can be booked over the phone by calling (805) 642-1393 or online at www.IslandPackers.com by clicking the Reserve Trip tab, select the Special Trips tab, and select your desired departure. The cost of the trip is $195 per adult.
Hope to see you at sea!