Why You Should Add “Pelagic Trip” to Your Vocabulary

Sign up for our Pelagic Birds and Mammals Workshops on June 4 and 11 plus Join us July 6 in the Outer Banks for a Pelagic Trip

By Greg Butcher

And now for something completely different!

Most birdwatchers start out feeding birds in their backyard or at the duck pond. During spring migration, we all get excited by warblers and orioles and tanagers.

Black-capped Petrel, Eric Bowles via  Flickr

Black-capped Petrel, Eric Bowles via Flickr

But there’s a whole other world out there – the ocean!

And ASNV has found the perfect ocean interpreter – Chris Haney. Chris has been a professional marine biologist for decades and also an avid birdwatcher basically all his life.

We asked Chris to teach ornithology for us, which he will do next fall, but he urged us to offer a marine birds and mammals course as well.

The field trip is scheduled for July 6 out of the Outer Banks in North Carolina (about a five-hour drive from northern Virginia). The pelagic trips out of North Carolina are the best on the East Coast – and normally the closest to us.

Notice that the course is about mammals as well as birds! July in North Carolina is not a good time to see the big whales, but there are almost certain to be Bottlenose Dolphins and there are chances to see Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and Gervais Beaked Whales (a small whale, but still a lot bigger than a dolphin!). And a big marine turtle or sunfish (Mola mola) is possible too.

North Carolina is the best place in the world to see Black-capped Petrels, very rare birds with a very restricted range – and our July trip should have several to many. Other petrels are possible as well, but there will almost certainly be 4-6 species of shearwaters, 2 or 3 species of storm-petrels, and an interesting tern or two (perhaps Sooty or Bridled).

Worried about sea-sickness? There are several new techniques for fighting it, including a prescription that works for almost everyone. Chris can provide the details – and explain the difference between a petrel and a storm-petrel.

The field trip has been separated from the course, so you can do one or the other. The course is 2 Tuesday nights – June 4 and 11 – but it might be worth it even if you have to miss one of the nights.

So, take this opportunity for a new adventure. Please sign up right away so we can finalize our plans: