No ideas about the mysteries but I do have a question about why so few
birders were on board: were they seasick? I went on a pelagic trip last June in
Maine and fully a third of the poor birders, who had spent good money and were
equipped with all sorts of optics and loads of excitement, spent the entire trip
either draped over the rail or lying flat on their backs on hard benches. The
outing became known as the Voyage of the Damned. (I was lucky - once I moved
from my original spot right next to the chum buckets - and saw awesome sights.)
It might be a worthwhile discussion for people to share seasickness remedies!