Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 08:00 returned at approx. 16:30.
Sea conditions: to 1.0m WNW.
Swell: S 1 to 2m offshore.
Weather: Sunshine throughout the day.
Temperature range: 13.7 to 19.1°C.
Barometric pressure: 1021 HPa, rising.
Wind: WNW 15 at first, dropping to less than 5kts variable in the afternoon.
Sea surface temperature: 15.8 to 19.2°C.
Primary chumming locations: S 34° 29’ – E 151° 10’, 34° 30’ – E 151° 22.
A stunning mid-winter dawn, chilly air and cool water, crisp sunshine below an impossibly blue sky and a mob of hungry Black-browed Albatross just outside the breakwater combined to produce an exhilarating start to the day.
At the first strong current line in 25 fathoms of water, we stopped to view a flock of prions and one ANTARCTIC PRION was observed amidst the Fairy Prions. A second congregation of prions was encountered at another current line in 45 fathoms, this flock contained several ANTARCTIC PRIONS and also 2 SLENDER-BILLED PRIONS. Berleying at this location for about an hour we attracted a flock of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross along with a several Black-browed and Campbell Albatross. A Brown Skua was also present, attracted as much to the feeding prions as by our offerings.
Continuing out to sea, Black-browed numbers dwindled as Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross numbers increased. Our trip out to the continental slope was interrupted yet again, this time by a pod of 12 or so Orcas. The group included an adult male that had singled out a female from the group for special attention. One individual, apparently a female, swam under the boat several times and made a couple of lazy passes at an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. It was not apparent if these were serious attempts to seize the bird or merely recreational.
After this heart-punishing interlude, the remainder of the trip seemed mundane by comparison. We did, however, encounter a large group of Short-beaked Common Dolphin wide of the Continental Shelf making serious inroads into a large gathering of Sauries, much to the appreciation of a mob of Australasian Gannets.
The return trip led us through some large groups of foraging Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross that were reminiscent of a seemingly bygone (should that read pre-bycatch?) era.
The encounter with the Orcas will be engraved into the memory of all on board. The mixed prion flocks were as enjoyable as always and, personally, it was great to see large numbers of foraging Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross on our return voyage.
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)
075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 1
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 200+ (100+)
084 ANTARCTIC PRION P. desolata 4 (3)
942 Slender-billed Prion P. belcheri 2 (1)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3 (2)
913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 1
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 31 (11) mainly inshore
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 7 (3)
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 2 (1)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 180+ (120+)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 89 (52)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2 (2)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 4 (1)
125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 250+ (50+)
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 2 (1)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 4 (2)
In the harbour:
101 Australian Darter Anhinga melanogaster 1 male
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1
125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 30+
16 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Orca Orcinus orca 12+
Short-beaked Common Dolphn Delphinus delphis 300+