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Puffins, Auks, and a Big Surprise

Good morning everyone. Well just when we thought it couldn’t get any better it has. This week is one of two 6-day naturalist cruises we offer each June and we are off to a great start. We left Camden after breakfast yesterday morning and pushed out of the bay to the southward. I had a hankering to get offshore and after the last 2 days of NW winds I suspected that the ocean swell would be knocked down some. After an hour’s push with the yawl boat, during which we saw a red phalarope, we caught a SSW wind and away we went sailing outside the islands that guard the south end of Vinalhaven.

Just after lunch we reached Seal I about 20 miles from Camden and a known nesting spot for Atlantic puffins and razor billed auks. I was a little nervous when just a mile from the island I wasn’t seeing much in the way of pelagic species. And then they came. A gannet soared across the bow and then the alcids began to appear. I don’t think I have seen so many puffins and auks as we did yesterday. The place was teeming with them.

We also had a surprise guest that even naturalists Mike and Margi Shannon had never witnessed, a white tailed tropic bird. Usually seen no further north than the Virginia coast here were, not just one, but two of these magnificent long tailed species.

This photo was taken by passenger Elaine Cundiff. The wind stayed fair as we sailed wing and wing all the way to our anchorage at Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan’s Island. I am still shaking my head at the extraordinary luck we had. Just amazing!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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