• 24th JULY 2010 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Report prepared by: Lindsay E. Smith.

    Departed: 07:10 returned at 15:35.
    Sea conditions:1.5 - 2m easing later in the day
    Swell: South-SE to 1.5 to 2.5 m decreasing to 1.0 to 1.5 m during the day.
    Weather: bright sunshine with scattered cloud during the late morning. Clearing later in the day
    Temperature range: 7 to 17įC.
    Barometric pressure: 1028 HPa.
    Wind: South -SE 10 to 20 knots in the morning easing later in the day to the South east 8 to 10 knots in the afternoon.
    Sea surface temperature: 18įC.
    Primary chumming location: S 34į 27' - E 151į 15'.

    Summary:

    A high-pressure system was located in the Tasman Sea and the Great Australian Bight creating a stable weather pattern with gentle mostly South Easterly breezes. The portents were very promising indeed as we cruised out of the harbour in near perfect conditions. A few Crested Terns and Australasian Gannets were patrolling the inshore waters as were good numbers of Albatrosses including Wandering, Black-browed, Campbellís and Shy types feeding on the Giant Cuttlefish which were in good numbers. We had brief views of a small group of White-fronted Terns as we cruised past the Wollongong Trap Reef. Generally in inshore waters, were quite productive with smaller numbers of Fluttering Shearwaters and Fairy Prions than was to be expected at this time of the year. The Silver Gulls were conspicuous by their low numbers, though breeding on the Five Islands was well underway.

    An assortment of small fish was in abundance. With the near Full Moon, marine life was plentiful and once past the outermost reef system. Things began to improve once we were at the end of the abysmal plain. A large Striped Marlin was observed cruising along the surface with itís caudal fin projecting more than 60cm above the surface.

    At the 80-fathom line we encountered the first and only Gadfly petrel of the day, it was a Solanderís Petrel which flew across our stern. As we cruised over the edge of the continental shelf at the 100-fathom line everybody was fully alert. Here to we were joined by several more Wandering Albatrosses D.exulans and the first of the Brown Skuas for the day.

    As conditions eased we stopped to drift and burlied, we were soon joined by a variety of seabirds including the only Bullerís Albatross and Cape Petrel for the day. Eventually the birds lost interest in us and alighted well fed on the ocean. We had to set course for the harbour and leave this productive patch of blue water. We stopped briefly outside a reef at 60-fathoms depth and attracted a spectacular crowd of birds, mainly Albatrosses, including good numbers of Yellow-nosed, Black-browed, Campbellís, Shy, White-capped, Wandering and Gibsonís. Kelp Gulls of at least three different ages, Immature, 1st winter, 2nd winter 3rd winter and adult gave an insight into the plumage development of this species. Fluttering Shearwaters, Fairy Prions, Crested Terns and Gannets soon joined the flock as we stopped to catch and band albatrosses. The banding team were fortunate enough to capture and band 14 albatrosses and a single Brown Skua. This gave the observers on board an opportunity to see a number of species in the hand, up close and personal and to see the research team in action. Birds captured and banded included Wandering, Gibsonís, White-capped, Black-browed, Campbell and Indian yellow-nosed Albatrosses and a Brown Skua.

    Highlights:

    Good numbers of albatrosses including a Bullerís. Once again proved to be a Great Day on the ocean.
    You canít pick em! Many thanks to all who shared in the day.

    Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:

    Species code: Species name: Numbers:
    (Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
    937 Northern Giant Petrel Macrononectes halli 3 (2)
    080 Cape Petrel Daption capense 1 (1)
    971 Solanderís Petrel Pterodroma solandri 1(1)
    083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 40 (8)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater P. gavia 30 (10)
    913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 2 (2)
    086 Wandering Albatross D.exulans 5 (3)
    847 Gibsonís Albatross D. gibsoni 3 (2)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris 40+ (15)
    859 Campbell Albatross T.impavida 5 (3)
    931 Bullerís Albatross T. bulleri 1 (1)
    091 Shy Albatross T. cauta 3 (2)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 5 (3)
    089 Indian yellow-nosed Albatross 40+ (18)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 4 (2)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 5 (5)
    8698 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 3 (2)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 10+ (8)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 200+ (200+)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 5 (2)
    114 White-fronted Tern sterna striata 3
    In the harbour:
    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
    100 Little Pied Cormorant, P. melanoleucos 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1

    13 species of procellariiformes in a total of 21 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:

    Welcome Swallow Hirundo
    131 Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus 1
    235 Australian Hobby

    Mammals:

    None

    Reptiles:

    None

    Fish:

    Striped Marlin
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