San Diego offshore May 7, 2020
The good news is your not missing by not being able to get out on the water right now !
Bad news is the extensive Red Tide has pushed sea birds, marine mammals and fishes out of our area .
I've seen some pretty extensive red tides over the years. This one may cover more area than others by quite a bit. I found the waters mostly red from inside San Diego Bay to the middle of the Nine Mile Bank, then in bands of brown or red clear to the Thirty Mile Bank. At times, I felt like I was sailing in a bowl of Campbell's Tomato Soup.
Red Tides are caused by a bloom microscopic phytoplankton, The can be toxic up the food chain, block out sunlight needed by some marine life, and starve the water of oxygen as they die and decay. Likely the bloom was caused by the late season runoff from recent storms, and warmer than normal sea surface temps. (today's sst were mostly 68-71 F)
Long story, shorten a bit, birds were sparse with one exception, phalaropes. I found both Red and Red-necked Phalaropes in good numbers often right a long the scum lines of the dense red tide lines.
The Red-necked Phalaropes are mostly in full breeding plumage. The majority of Red Phalaropes were mid moult, a few in complete breeding plumage, and at least two that were still in basic winter plumage.
Little else moving, almost nothing feeding (exception was an adult female Brown Booby plunge diving over the S.D. Trough).
I covered about 90 n. miles, clear into L.A.co. waters. Large areas, with no life of an sort. Particularly concerning was the total absence of Scripps's Murrelets. They should be relatively abundant this time of year. I show from my notes, May 12, 2019, 90 Scripps's , May 20, 2018, 120 Scripps's. Today, no alcid of any species was seen.
Very foggy early, visibility 4 n.miles and stout south wind afternoon.
Complete list and numbers from the ocean;
Pacific Loon 7
Common Loon 2
Pink-footed Shearwater 5
Sooty Shearwater 32
Black-vented Shearwater 7
Ashy Storm-Petrel 7
Black Storm-Petrel 60
Brown Booby 2
Brown Pelican 19
Brandt's Cormorant 3
lg. shorebird sp. 2 (whimbrel, curlew, ?)
Red-necked Phalarope 175
Red Phalarope 80
phalarope sp. 60
Heermann's Gull 1
California Gull 2
Western Gull 8
Least Tern 1
Elegant Tern 30
Royal Tern 1
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports