• 25th August 2001 WOLLONGONG SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP REPORT, NSW, AUSTRALIA

    Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Conditions:


    Departed at 7.15 am and returned at approx 5.00 pm.
    Sea Conditions: NW 0.5 to 1.0 m at first, increasing later to 1.0 to 1.5m.
    Swell 2 to 3 metre, SE.
    Weather: Glorious sunshine all day. Max. 21C
    Barometric pressure: 1016 HPa falling.
    Wind: 5 to 10 kts NW at first increasing to 15 kts later.
    Water temperature 18.1 to 19.5 degrees C.
    Primary chumming location S 34 23' - E 151 23'.

    Summary:

    A preceding southerly change and cooler water temperatures than the beginning of August led us to hope that this trip would bring some typical late winter/early spring seabirds. The falling barometer and the forecast of strong northerly winds later in the day added a little spice to the anticipation of the day! A large contingent of overseas visitors were hoping for a good variety of albatross and southern petrels while the seasoned locals were hoping for a continuation in the run of recent unusual sightings, such as Arctic Tern and Cory's Shearwater. The former won the day, which was good because they had travelled further! Overall numbers of southern seabirds were still low but there was a significant improvement over recent weeks.Oustide the harbour we found calm seas and a rolling SE swell. Several Australian Fur Seals and some Fluttering Shearwaters provided early interest. 4 NM offshore we encountered numbers of shearwaters, mostly Fluttering with the occasional Hutton's for the sharp-eyed and quick of reflex and the first Wedge-tailed of the spring (right on schedule). Unusually some 15 Fluttering Shearwaters tagged along following us into deep water, which gave unprecedented photographic opportunities!Further offshore we found small number of albatross including a first year Shy Albatross which gave brilliant views. Common and White-fronted Terns were also around. A small group of Australasian Gannets were observed fishing with a group of Common Dolphins.At 80 fathoms we were lucky enough to encounter 2 Southern Humpback Whales, which gave us a good display. The water temperature dropped wide of the continental shelf and some soutern species were observed including a Cape Petrel and the only ANTARCTIC PRION of the day.At the shelf break we found more birds including, the highlight of the day for many, a white male Gibson's Albatross which spent a lot of time with us. The bird wore a band on its right leg but did not allow itself to be captured by the SOSSA banding team.The bird rarity of the day once again appeared on the return trip in the form of a GREY-BACKED STORM PETREL in 80 fathoms of water.

    Highlights:

    2 Humpback Whales breaching, protracted views of a white male Gibson's
    Albatross and GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL.

    Birds recorded according to latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:Species code: Species name: NumbersNote: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)

    937 Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli 1
    080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 3 (1)
    971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 35+ (10+)
    083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 50+ (25+)
    084 ANTARCTIC PRION P. desolata 1
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 150+ (50+)
    068 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 20+ (13)
    913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 4 (1)
    847 Gibson's Albatross Diomedea gibsoni 1
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 6 (2)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 2 (1)
    091 Shy Albatross T. cauta 1
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1
    864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 26 (6)
    064 GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL Garrodia nereis 1
    065 White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marina 1
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 22 (17)
    980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 4 (2)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 3 (3)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 100+ (50+)
    114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 13 (5) several adults in breeding plumage
    115 Crested Tern S. bergii 58 (35)

    In the harbour:

    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 422 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.

    Mammals:

    Australian Fur Seal 3 (2)
    Common Dolphin 20+ (20+)
    Southern Humpbacked Whale 2 (2)
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