Written Thursday evening:
Today was bittersweet. We saw seabirds and one that was lost at sea. We woke up to find a female Yellow warbler hitchhiking on the ship – a nice little treat for birders, probably not so nice for the poor warbler, who must have blown off course. When we awoke we were well offshore, headed northeast toward Astoria. During the first shift of observations someone spotted dolphins! As we got closer, we realized there were about 80 of them – Pacific white-sided dolphins – riding the bow waves. Right after they left a pod of Northern right whale dolphins appeared. This was even exciting for Dr. Torres, our marine mammalogist. These dolphins have no dorsal fin and purportedly look like the extremely endangered Northern right whale.
Northern right whale dolphin, named for the extremely endangered Northern right whale
We didn’t see many whales today, but throughout the day we spotted birds galore – Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, Black-foot albatross, Sabin’s gulls, Fork-tailed storm petrel, Cassin’s auklets, Marbled murrelets, and many gulls. We also saw an Albacore tuna and several Mola-mola (ocean sunfish). Incredible sightings.
A short video of some of the many dolphins that swam around our bow:
The bitter part of the day came near the end when we had to say goodbye to our scientists and Warrenton High School teacher Josh Jannusch.
We say goodbye to the scientists and Josh
Now we are motoring up the Columbia River – it will take us about 10 hours on the Columbia to reach the Willamette. We expect to arrive in Portland at about 6:30 tomorrow morning, and we are all planning to get up at 4:30 to see the bridges.
Not all fun and games: Natalie and Leland doing homework
Next challenge: giving tours of the Oceanus tomorrow.