Boobies and Basking Sharks San Diego - Coronados Islands 26 May 2010
By Dave Povey
I took Frank Gress and Eduardo Palacios to do their survey of pelican and cormorant breeding, and populations at the Coronado Islands. I will let them report their findings. Four pairs of Xantus' Murrelets (all adults) were on the water near the east end of the Coronado Canyon. An adult male Brown Booby was fishing with terns a couple of miles north of North Is. An other adult male Brown Booby was heading north as we approached Middle Rock.
We counted 38 Brown Boobies on Middle Rock. This included one adult on a nest, and two separate downy birds with adults in attendance. One chick with it's dark fight feathers coming in. On the way home we had the only tube-noses of the day, 3-4 Black Storm Petrels just below the Whistle Bouy (about 4 n. miles from the "Point").
We had a steady flow of Elegant and Least Terns flying west at about 6 n. miles to within 3 miles of the bay. We also had a very large shark near North Coronado Is. I will leave that story for the socalbirding. com web post. That will give you a chance to read the Grande trip report May 15-17, which has to be one of the all time epic San Diego offshore birding trips.
One interesting story was as we approached North Coronado Is, in Mexican Waters. We saw a huge dorsal fin cutting through the water some 100 yards from us. Both Eduardo and I thought it might be a White Shark. We closed to within 50ft we could see it was truly a monster shark. Eduardo mentioned a Whale Shark but the fish was uniformally steel gray, not patterned above. The dosal was tall but much wider at the base and rounded. Somewhat floppy. The tail rarely broke the surface, and seemed swept aft. The overall length is hard to judge but I'm guessing greater than 2/3 the length of the boat 21ft . Some thing on the order of 14-16 ft. This guy was a Basking Shark reported to go to 40 ft!!! and common epipelagic on the west coast. Impressive animal!
Common Loon 1
Pacific Loon 1
Black Storm Petrel 3-4
Brown Booby 2 at sea, 38 on Middle Rock including 2 chicks, 1 adult on nest
Brown Pelican 16
Brandt's Cormorant 6
Western Gull 25
Least Tern 14
Elegant Tern 200
Royal Tern 3
Caspain Tern 2
Xantus' Murrelet 8
We travelled down at about 0800 and returned at about 2 pm, overcast am partly cloudy pm, air temps in the 60's, sea surface temps 59.2 to 59.9 degrees winds light and from the west strenghting in the afternoon. Visability 10 +miles.
This site is owned and operated by the Buena Vista Audubon Society 2202 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA 92054 (c) 2007-2010 Buena Vista Audubon Society, Oceanside, California. All rights reserved. All photos copyrighted.