Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Photographs: Black-browed albatross (B. Whylie), Black petrel (B. Whylie), Whale carcass (B. Whylie),

    Departed: 07:10 returned at approx. 17:00 .
    Sea conditions: calm at first then NE 1.0 to 1.5m.
    Swell: ENE 2.0 to 3.0m offshore.
    Weather: clear skies in the morning but patchy cloud in the afternoon.
    Temperature range: 16.9 to 26.6°C.
    Barometric pressure: 1003 HPa steady.
    Wind: 8 to 10 knots NE by mid morning.
    Sea surface temperature: 20.9 to 21.7°C.
    Primary chumming location: 34° 28’S : 151° 23’E.


    A high-pressure system was located over New Zealand leaving a weak trough to develop over eastern Australia . Departing from port on beautiful spring morning we found ourselves immediately among Short-tailed and Fluttering Shearwaters close inshore. Several New Zealand Fur-Seals and a SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL were also busy hunting fish and small groups of Little Penguins were foraging over the outer edge of Wollongong Reef. This was the first record of a SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL on a Wollongong Pelagic Cruise.

    Birds were plentiful during our cruise eastwards and included Black-browed and Campbell Albatross, Cape Petrel and Wilson ’s Storm-Petrel. We made good headway in the gentle conditions and were greeted at the edge of the continental shelf by White-capped and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross and several Pomarine Jaegers. As we continued into deeper waters, we encountered Grey-faced and Solander’s Petrels and several Sooty Shearwaters. In the water were Short-beaked Common Dolphins and Short Sunfish and cruising over our wake were several Gibson’s and a second year SALVIN’S ALBATROSS.

    Continuing eastward, more seabirds appeared; first an Arctic Jaeger, then a GOULD’S PETREL that typically showed little interest in our vessel and passed us to the south and, finally, a BLACK PETREL that obligingly plonked itself at our transom while we were still under way. As we stopped to admire the BLACK PETREL, several Gibson’s and at least one ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS crash-landed into the seabird mob at our stern. Once more back under way, we sighted a large herd of dolphins ahead of us and as we cruised towards them we knew that something special was in store. Eventually we were certain that we had encountered a large group of STRIPED DOLPHINS, a species that we have not observed from Wollongong for many years and, to add a little further interest to proceedings, there were also groups of Short-beaked Common Dolphins in their midst.

    We stayed with the dolphins for a long time and eventually set up a drift-and-berley session in 600 fathoms of water but it felt as though the major excitement of the day was behind us. Somebody mentioned the time and we realized that we had better head homewards.

    For many years it seemed that the trip back to harbour was an interminably dull sort of affair but in the mid-naughties we have learned that sometimes we experience some seriously good fortune on the way back to port. Today were in for a very special experience; we stopped to capture and band a WANDERING ALBATROSS and somewhere during the proceedings somebody noticed a flock of Wilson ’s Storm-Petrels. Under way once more, Cape Petrels appeared from all directions and, while our skipper had already recognized what was happening, the rest of us eventually realized that we had stumbled upon a floating whale carcass. Species diversity was not impressive but the spectacle was! There was the tragic whale carcass surrounded by SOUTHERN GIANT-PETRELS, mobs of Cape Petrels and, over the oil slick, hundreds of Wilson ’s Storm-Petrels. A small group of WANDERING ALBATROSS was competing with the Giant-Petrels. The shark-bite cognoscenti aboard had a field day; clearly in evidence were calling cards from White Pointers and Tiger Sharks along with a myriad of other denture imprints! We invested the time to drift down onto the carcass but the only sharks that we saw were Bronze Whalers. After a lot of effort, everybody on board had good views of the NORTHERN GIANT-PETRELS that were heavily outnumbered by their southern counterparts and several observers recorded an ANTARCTIC CAPE PETREL amidst the hordes of New Zealand Cape Petrels.

    Typically as we returned to inshore waters, we added Australian Pelican and Kelp Gull to the daily species tally.


    This was a mind-boggling pelagic trip from almost beginning to end! We had clear views of a sub-adult SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL over the inshore reefs, the first recorded on a pelagic trip from Wollongong . Then it was the turn of seabirds to steal the show with a flyby GOULD’S PETREL and an in-your-face BLACK PETREL well beyond the edge of the continental shelf. Then the focus of attention was back to marine mammals in the form a large herd of STRIPED DOLPHINS, the first recorded from Wollongong for over 10 years, with Short-beaked Common Dolphins intermixed.

    The climactic highlight of the day occurred on our trip back to port when we experienced a combined marine mammal seabird spectacle. True, the marine mammal was a carcass but the vivacity of the associated seabird throng somehow compensated for that morbid fact. The real let down of the day was the paucity of shark sightings given the number of shark bites evident on the carcass.

    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)

    005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 9 (3)
    929 SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL Macronectes giganteus 12 (12)
    937 NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL M. halli 2 (2)
    080 ANTARCTIC CAPE PETREL Daption c. capense 1
    080 New Zealand Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 325+ (300+ )
    075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma macropteragouldi 17 (15)
    971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 4 (2)
    078 GOULD’S PETREL P. leucoptera 1
    917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 1
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 30 (11)
    913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 4 (2)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 175+ (85+)
    070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 3 (2)
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 180+ (100+)
    072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 3 (1)
    086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 6 (5)
    846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 1
    847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 15 (12)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 2 (2)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 6 (3)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (2)
    862 SALVIN’S ALBATROSS T. salvini 1 second year
    089 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T.carteri 2 (2)
    063 Wilson ’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 360+ (350+)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 21 (7)
    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
    128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 2 (1)
    945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 4 (3)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 9 (9)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 20 (20)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 15 (5)
    953 Common Tern S. hirundo 6 (3)

    In the harbour:

    097 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 3 (3)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 5 (5)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1 adult

    22 species of procellariiformes in a total of 32 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:



    SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL Arctocephalus tropicalis 1
    New Zealand Fur-Seal Arctocephalus forsteri 3 (3)
    STRIPED DOLPHIN Stenella coeruleoalba 250+ (250+)
    Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 70+ (50+)




    Bronze Whaler Carcharhinus brachyurus 2 (1)
    Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 2 (1)
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