Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

    Departed: Saturday 20th October at 21:30 and returned at 20:00 on Monday 22nd October 2007.
    Sea conditions: A northerly wind chop at first rising 2.0 to 3.0m by Sunday morning. The northerly seas continued throughout the day easing overnight. A late southerly change on Monday flattened the sea completely for the trip back to port.
    Swell: to 1.0 m NE inshore but to 3.0 to 4.0m N offshore.
    Weather: Warm with clear skies for the entire trip.
    Barometric pressure: 1014 HPa steady.
    Wind: NNW 15 to 20 knots at first increasing to 28 to 30 knots by mid morning on Sunday. The wind eased overnight and through Monday morning settling to 18 knots NNW. A southerly change with winds at 20 to 25 knots came through in the late afternoon.
    Sea surface temperature: 18.0 to 21.8°C.
    Primary chumming locations: S 35° 24’ – E 151° 58’ and S 35° 18’ – E 150° 58’ to S 35° 28’ – E 150° 45’.


    A high-pressure system was located to the east of us in the Tasman Sea, leaving left us under the influence of a northerly air stream on Sunday and for most of Monday. A low-pressure system in the Great Australian Bight intensified and moved southeast toward New Zealand and a cold front associated with this system reached us late on Monday afternoon.

    During the week before our departure there had been a pronounced finger of warm water to the east of Ulladulla and an unusually cold water system to the south so we had planned to visit both of these features. As luck would have it, these features had merged by the time we were 70 nautical miles east of the harbour! We found ourselves cruising around in a large, uniform pool of beautiful blue water.

    Departing after dinner on a balmy evening a number of us stood at the bow and enjoyed looking at all the phosphorescent creatures disturbed by the bow wave. A pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins cruised with us for several miles. As we retired below we could feel a stiff northwesterly breeze blowing off the coast. The wind blew all night and with the sea on our beam as we cruised due east it was difficult to sleep.

    We began recording observations at 05:00 and the first birds observed were Solander’s and Grey-faced Petrels along with a solitary Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. Short-tailed Shearwaters were heading south in small groups but Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were so scarce that they were the objects of some excitement! Black-browed, Campbell and White-capped Albatross were present in the area but in small numbers.

    The first rarity of the trip, a GOULD’S PETREL, was logged at 06:30 but was only seen by several observers from the upper deck. Shortly thereafter those reluctant to go below for the first breakfast sitting also spotted a LEATHERBACK TURTLE from the upper deck. The first BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL of the trip was entered into the log just before 07:00 so we elected to set up a drift-and-berley session.

    Approximately 70 nautical miles due east of Ulladulla, we drifted in an easterly direction for five hours and recorded a SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL, several New Zealand and 1 ANATRCTIC CAPE PETREL, an impressive flock of Grey-faced and several Solander’s Petrels, a transient COOK’S and 2 persistent BLACK PETRELS. Also WANDERING, ANTIPODEAN, Gibson’s, Black-browed, Campbell and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross. There were 2 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels among the flock of BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETRELS.

    The northerly wind was predicted to strengthen to 30 knots overnight and the oceanographic data suggested little would change if we continued east so instead we decided to cruise west-northwest at a gentle pace to improve passenger comfort, especially when it became time to sleep.

    We added singleton Fluttering Shearwater, WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL and LONG-TAILED JEAGER to the species list for the trip during an interesting afternoon. The number of Solander’s Petrels and Short-tailed Shearwaters recorded decreased noticeably during the day. We closed the log at 18:00 and retired below for a fine dinner.

    At 05:00 the following morning not a bird was to be seen until the first dollop of tuna oil went overboard. As on the previous morning the first birds to appear were Grey-faced Petrels. In the absence of any water fronts we had decided to spend the day drifting south with the 15 knot northerly breeze towards Ulladulla, parallel to the continental shelf. We hoped that the southerly change predicted for the late afternoon would bring some birds with it.

    Several BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETRELS were seen early in the morning along with a BLACK PETREL. Albatross activity picked up around 07:00 and we had a good mix of seabirds with us for several hours, including the only Brown Skua and Arctic Jeager for the trip. There was a flurry of activity around 10:00 when a BLACK-WINGED PETREL was observed briefly in the vicinity of a large whale. The petrel disappeared but a large bull SPERM WHALE provided a most impressive spectacle as it cruised northwards at considerable speed. It was reminiscent of a submarine cruising on the surface as it crashed through the waves. By way of an anti-climax, the only observation of Silver Gull on the trip, a flock of ten, also occurred at this point.

    Dolphins were around us at midday and the number of albatross was increasing steadily. An albatross with a grey head was spotted resting on the water and, after a tantalizing wait it drifted past, allowing positive identification as a first year SALVIN’S ALBATROSS. After lunch the effect of the approaching front became apparent; shearwater numbers were increasing and Wilson’s Storm-Petrels started to appear in the manner of the time honoured tradition. A solitary Pomerine Jaeger appeared along with the only Hutton’s and Sooty Shearwaters of the trip. At 16:00 the wind shifted to the south and with the change a NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL appeared along with more BLACK PETRELS. Until the light faded we enjoyed a fantastic spectacle of seabirds circling our vessel, almost brushing our faces with their wingtips. Indeed, a Short-tailed Shearwater crashed into the side of my head at full cruising speed as I stood at the stern rail. Thankfully it flew away after resting on the water for a while and I managed to stop the bleeding from my right ear.

    Twenty-six hours of pelagic observations provided a wonderful glimpse of springtime marine life in the Tasman Sea. As usual, in order not to miss something one had better stay on deck! Many of the more familiar coastal species proved to be as elusive as the pelagic specialties.


    Sightings of GOULD’S PETREL and LEATHERBACK TURTLE before breakfast and, later, attracting BLACK PETRELS and BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETRELS in a mixed flock on the first morning.

    A BLACK-WINGED PETREL that appeared along with a bull SPERM WHALE provided the thrill of the morning on the second day. The late southerly change provided us with great photographic opportunities and close up views of a good range of albatrosses and petrels.

    Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:
    EA code Species name 21.10.08 22.10.08

    929 SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL Macronectes giganteus 1 0
    937 NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL M. halli 0 1
    080 ANTARCTIC CAPE PETREL Daption c. capense 1 0
    080 New Zealand Cape Petrel D. capense australe 3 (3) 11 (6)
    075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 287 (76) 44 (17)
    971 Solander’s Petrel P. solandri 31 (16) 37 (11)
    955 BLACK-WINGED PETREL P. nigripennis 0 1
    918 COOK’S PETREL P. cookii 1 0
    078 GOULD’S PETREL P. leucoptera 1 0
    917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 2 (2) 4 (3)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 1 2 (1)
    913 Hutton’s Shearwater P. huttoni 0 6 (5)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 5 (2) 4 (4)
    070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 0 2 (1)
    071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 168 (24) 355 (150)
    086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 1 5 (4)
    846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 1 6 (3)
    847 Gibson’s Albatross D. gibsoni 9 (8) 32 (15)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 4 (1) 7 (4)
    859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 3 (1) 13 (8)
    091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 0 4 (1)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1 3 (1)
    862 SALVIN’S ALBATROSS T. salvini 0 1
    089 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 1 4 (1)
    063 Wilson’s Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 5 (1) 108 (48)
    065 WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL Pelagodroma m. dulciae 1 0
    066 BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL Fregetta tropica 24 (12) 3 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 1 1
    980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 0 1
    128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 0 1
    933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 1 0
    945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 0 1
    125 Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae 0 10 (10)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 0 1

    26 species of procellariiformes in a total of 33 species of seabird identified.

    Other birds:



    SPERM WHALE Physeter macrocephalus 1male
    Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 8 (8)
    Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 40+ (20+)


    LEATHERBACK TURTLE Dermochelys coriacea 1 adult


    Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 1
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