• 7th October, 2006 SOSSA WIRES REARCH PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Departed: 07:15 returned at approx. 15:00.
    Sea conditions: Northerly to 0.5 to 1.0 m at first, rising 1.5 to 2.0 m NE later.
    Swell: SE to 1.5 to 2.5m at first, decreasing to 1.0m SE in the afternoon.
    Weather: Bright sunshine all day.
    Temperature range: 17.1 to 24.3C.
    Barometric pressure: 1016 HPa steady.
    Wind: NNW 8 to 10 knots at first increasing to NE 15 to 20 knots in the afternoon.
    Sea surface temperature: 19.4 to 21.8C.
    Primary chumming location: S 34 21' - E 151 14'.

    Summary:

    A high-pressure system was located just offshore, in the Tasman Sea, creating stable conditions with a stiff afternoon sea breeze. The day proved to be very entertaining overall with a good mixture of seabirds and cetacean encounters.

    We left the harbour under a cloudless sky with just enough of a breeze to create a very pleasant morning. A few Silver Gulls managed to find the energy to follow us once we cleared the breakwater and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were scattered thinly immediately offshore. One or two Fluttering Shearwaters passed us distantly and an Australian Pelican was loafing behind one of the fishing boats. An early surprise was an adult CASPIAN TERN to our north, one of the very few times that this species has been sighted on a Wollongong Boat Trip.

    The water inshore was quite murky but seven nautical miles out we found a marked front and the warmer water was much clearer. At this point the wind picked up and suddenly seabirds were all around us. A decent-sized flock of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters was following us but these paled into insignificance by comparison to the hordes of Short-tailed Shearwaters streaming south. Additionally, a first year Black-browed, a first year SHY and several Gibson's Albatross closed in on us.

    Heading northeast in anticipation of rising wind later in the day we headed towards deeper water. Short-tailed Shearwaters were passing on both sides by the thousand, with several Sooty Shearwaters spotted in their midst. The arrival of and impressive young male WANDERING ALBATROSS and a first year Campbell Albatross swelled our attendant cohort of albatross. Two Humpback Whales surfaced directly ahead of us causing us to halt and using this opportunity to drift and berley we attracted a SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL and a lone Wilson's Storm-Petrel.

    At the edge of the continental shelf a pale morph SOUTH POLAR SKUA homed in on us but managed to evade all attempts at photography by disappearing and reappearing in a very erratic fashion. A single Solander's Petrel was with the first group of Great-winged Petrels of the race gouldi that we have observed this spring season.

    A NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL was observed on the return leg of the trip and a pod of Oceanic Bottle-nosed Dolphins followed us for a short while. Further sightings of Humpback Whale completed the day's entertainment.

    Highlights:

    Large flocks of returning Short-tailed Shearwaters provided a spectacular backdrop for most of the morning. Rare bird sightings included a pale morph SOUTH POLAR SKUA and a CASPIAN TERN.

    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 1
    929 SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL Macronectes giganteus 1
    937 NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL M. halli 1
    073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 8 (6)
    971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 1
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 110+ (100+)
    913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 1
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 300+ (150+)
    070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 3 (1)
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 35 000+ (5 000+)
    072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 12 (8)
    86 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 1
    847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 21 (8)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 15 (8)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 2 (1)
    861 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 3 (2)
    864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 8 (6)
    063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 3 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 11 (8)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
    980 SOUTH POLAR SKUA Catharacta maccormicki 1
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 2 (2)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 350+ (300+)
    112 CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia 1
    115 Crested Tern S. bergii 21 (13)

    In the harbour:

    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2 (2)
    100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 7 (5)

    25 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Other birds:

    None

    Mammals:

    Australian Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus 1
    Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 6 (4)
    Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 6 (6)

    Reptiles:

    None

    Fish:

    None
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