Dry Tortugas Apr 26—29, 2017

Posted by Rafael Galvez


Rafael Galvez

Rafael Galvez has been birding and illustrating birds since childhood, a dual passion that developed when his family moved from Peru to South Florida. Always with a sketchp...

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The Dry Tortugas never disappoints! During this tour we found a great representation of migrants and Caribbean specialties, and experienced close encounters with the colonial birds that breed exclusively in the archipelago. Highlights were many, including marine turtles, dolphins, and the company of a fun group of tour participants.

Antillean Nighthawk

Antillean Nighthawk— Photo: Rafael Galvez


What makes our VENT tour to the Dry Tortugas special is that we get to spend an extended period of time traveling to the archipelago, and in and around the islands. Rather than rushing to and from Fort Jefferson in a single day via the speedy ferry – one of the few remaining ways to explore the Tortugas as a group – we benefit from the flexibility that the MV Playmate offers, particularly in allowing us to pursue pelagic species on our ride out, allowing us to sail close to the Masked Booby colony, and giving us the option of intimate dinghy rides along the tern and frigatebird colonies, which are always magical. And during this tour we did all of that!

Our ride out to the Dry Tortugas was relatively smooth and turned out more exciting sightings of pelagic species than usual. After our first dinner and introductions, we headed to the Key West Yacht Club, where our private boat – the MV Playmate – was waiting for us. Aboard the boat, we were met by the crew and given an orientation. Very early the next morning, while most passengers were sleeping, our captain started the engines and we set sail toward the Dry Tortugas archipelago. Already, the possibility of an adverse change in weather was looming. In late April, the region is known for sudden and unexpected weather changes. Safety is always first.

Read Rafael’s full report in his Field List.