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Pelagic Birding

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Click Here for Pelagic Weather Resources.


What Birds Might Be Seen?

Beginning - Mid March
These trips have been run for well over a decade, and have produced good winter seabirds in the past. The primary focus will be alcids and past sightings include Razorbill almost every year, Dovekie several times (high of 733), Atlantic Puffin several times, Common Murre on almost half of the trips, and Thick-billed Murre once.

Great Skua and Northern Fulmar have also been seen. Gannets and Kittiwakes are regular. We'll chum as we go to keep gulls, gannets, and hopefully a skua at the back of the boat. We also stop for any whales. This trip has produced Fin Whale several times and an incredible show by two Northern Right Whales in 1998. FYI for state listers, we will be in both NJ and DE waters.


End of May
Possible birds include Sooty, Cory’s and Manx Shearwaters; 3 Jaegers, South Polar and Great Skua; Arctic Tern, (Bridled Tern was seen off Cape May in 2000); Northern Fulmar, Red and Red-necked Phalarope; Wilson’s and Leach’s Storm Petrel. Atlantic Puffin has been seen off Cape May at this time of the year). Sharks, Whales and Dolphins possible.

Beginning of June
Possible birds include Cory's, Greater and Sooty Shearwaters; Wilson's and Leach's Storm-Petrels; Parasitic, Pomarine, and Long-tailed Jaegers; South Polar Skua, Arctic Tern, Northern Gannet, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes.   Bridle Terns in 2000. Also 2 South Polar Skuas and 2 Long-tailed Jaegers.

End August - Beginning Sept
At a prime time for Long-tailed Jaegers (mostly juveniles) during their southward migration. All 3 species of Jaegers and South Polar Skua are possible. Also at a prime time for Shearwaters (Greater, Cory’s and Audubon regular, Manx and Sooty much rarer) and Storm-Petrels. Among the latter, numerous Wilson’s, with others possible: Leach’s in migration, White-faced and Band-rumped possible, as well.


Beginning of December
Great Skua, various alcids, Northern Fulmar, white-winged gulls, Manx Shearwater, Red Phalarope, Pomarine Jaegar, Gannets, and Kittiwakes. During this winter trip, the last 8 years: Dovekies in areas of plankton (6 years), Atlantic Puffin (5 years), Razorbill (6 years), Common Murre (2 years), Iceland & Glaucous Gulls (6 years), and Great Skua (3 years)

Tour Operators

See Life Paulagics :

Paul A. Guris
PO Box 161
Green Lane, PA 18054
Phone: (215) 234-6805
Click here for the See Life Paulagics website

Pelagic Listing Boundary Lines

Pelagic Boundaries Map
supplied by P.A. Buckley and M. Nicholson

Explanation of Pelagic Boundaries
~ P.A. Buckley

The lines on the map have been drawn after an exhaustive comparison of approaches to defining pelagic boundaries that considered 2 additional, sometimes-used approaches. These are 'going due east' and 'nearest-land' or in this case, 'nearest state.'

I applied accepted international law and cartographic techniques in all cases, and they both immediately ruled out the 'go due east until you reach 200nm' approach advocated by DEL. It is untenable except where the coastline is exactly due N-S. That left the 'nearest-state' technique, which was also rather quickly ruled out because, inter alia, it did not allow several states -- Rhode Island, Delaware, and Virginia, in fact! -- to even REACH the 200nm boundary, and also because it violated egregiously one of the first principles of international maritime law, that states' areas at sea should be roughly proportional in some consistent way to their shoreline lengths.

Then, given that there exists already an official US-drawn line that delimits the US’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary 200 nm at sea, I took a good look at that line. Even though smoothed, it clearly follows the general US coastline (that is, it 'buffers' it), and in addition has several 'inflection points' that conform to major coastal topographic discontinuities such as the mouths of Chesapeake and Delaware bays, the entrance to NY Harbor (aka/ the apex of the NY Bight), and so on.

Then, following established interstate boundaries from the actual shorelines off to 12 miles, I extended the lines until they intercepted those EEZ inflection points. In a few places where there were none, the intersection point was determined as proportional to the shoreline lengths of the involved states.

In other words, it was all very objective, legal, and consistent.

NEW JERSEY’S Official Position on Boundary Lines
At this time the NJBRC has not issued a position on official pelagic boundaries nor does it have any official pelagic boundaries.

Joe Burgiel (NJBRC) writes, "At the moment, NJ pelagic boundaries are not well defined and we are simply recording the locations of all pelagic records. Historically, our boundaries were more or less shaped by where pelagic trips from NJ usually went. This included all of Hudson Canyon but none of Wilmington Canyon. Since this definition is vague, we will in the future adopt a more precise one, whether it be the Buckley definition, nearest point of land, or other."

DELAWARE’S Official Position on Boundary Line
The Delaware Bird Records Committee defines the Delaware waters as the latitude of the Delaware/Maryland border - 38 degrees 27' 4"N to the latitude of the tip of the outer breakwater at Cape Henlopen - 38 degrees 50'N. The water extends east 200 nautical miles

Sea Conditions



Height (m)




Calm (glassy)




Calm (rippled)

0 to 0.1



Smooth (wavelets)

0.1 to 0.5




0.5 to 1.25




2.5 to 4




4 to 6




6 to -9

Very High 9 to 14







1 meter = 39.37 inches


1 meter = 3' 3.37"





  Beaufort Wind Scale



Calm, sea like a mirror




Light air, ripples only

1 to 3



Light breeze, waves 0.2m, glassy crests

4 to 6



Gentle breeze, waves 0.6m, breaking crests

7 to 10



Moderate breeze, waves 1m, some white horses

11 to 16



Fresh breeze, waves 1.8m, many white horses

17 to 21



Strong breeze, waves 3m, some spray

22 to -27



Near gale, waves 4m, foam

28 to 33



Gale, waves 5.5m, crests break into spindrift

34 to 40



strong gale, waves 7m, dense foam

41 to 47



Storm, waves 9m, visibility impaired

48 to 55



Violent storm, waves 11m, visibility poor

56 to 63



Hurricane, waves 14m, visibility bad





1 knot = 1.15 mph or 1.85 kmph


Additional Information

Cape May Whale Watch

Miss Chris Marina

Cape May Atlantic Star - JJC Boats

Avalon Sea Watch

Cape May - Lewes Ferry


Information on this page supplied by Adrian Binns and Paul Guris