Vessel: 37ft monohull, M.V. Grinner.
Skipper: Craig Newton.
Pax: Paul Walbridge (leader & organizer), Richard Baxter, Inger Van Dyke, Richard Fuller, Brian Russell, Heyn DeKocq, Dan Coleman, Decie Coleman, Dave Stewart, Colin Reid, Stuart Warren, Rob Morris.
A deep low in the Tasman Sea with a large high moving in behind it extended a ridge over the Queensland coast. This brought strong southerly winds onto the SEQ coast in the days leading up to the trip which turned to the north west as the ridge weakened and as the high moved away to the southeast. A generally sunny day with some high cloud, visibility excellent. Winds from WNW early 10-15 knots, increasing to 25+ knots out wide at times from the NW. Air temperature, 27° C max. Bar. 1016 hPa.
Light seas on about a metre swell on leaving the Seaway, quickly building up on moving out across the Shelf and with the wind increasing in velocity. Out wide, just outside the Shelf-break conditions worsened with up to 1.5 metre seas on at times 2.5+ metre swell. Sea surface temperature at the Seaway 23.4°C, increasing to 25.7°C at the Shelf-break and to 26.07°C maximum.
Left the Seaway at 0610 hrs & travelled out across the Shelf, reaching the Shelfbreak at 0850 and where, due to the prevailing conditions, decided to start a drift soon after.
Final distance from shore reached approx. 42.5 kilometres ENE of Southport Seaway.
Drifted until 1145 hrs, when headed back up into the slick for a final check before heading back to the Seaway. Arrived back at the Seaway at 1445 hrs. Total duration of trip 8hrs 35 mins.
On heading out of the Seaway not much activity noted, save for a couple of trawlers incoming,with nothing more than attendant Crested Terns and Silver Gulls plus a Caspian Tern with a beak full of bycatch. Pretty much nothing on the way out over the Continental Shelf, with a lone Wedge-tailed Shearwater appearing just before the Shelf-break. Just after crossing over the Shelf and due to the conditions we decided to stop for a drift and lay down a berley slick. Within just a few minutes the first Providence Petrels then Great-winged Petrels started to appear. Initially Providence Petrels prevailed but as the drift went on Great-winged Petrel numbers predominated.
Just after we stopped a very pale storm petrel appeared from the south into the slick, Southports’ very first White-faced Storm Petrel. Over the next couple of hours several more would appear, with up to three in procession, astern of the boat at close range working up the slick. By now, other species such as Tahiti Petrel and the first of four Kermadec Petrels, a very pale intermediate bird. The other three were mainly dark birds, one with a pale chin but the last bird an all dark individual which remained for over an hour. Surprisingly very few Wilson’s Storm Petrels were seen but the troughs were fairly deep & such small birds can be easily missed.
As we left for home more birds were still arriving, pity we had to leave but the conditions weren’t getting any better & it was going to be a bit of a slog back. Pretty quiet on the way back over the Shelf, with a lone Great-winged Petrel following the vessel for some distance. Just outside the Seaway three juvenile Australasian Gannets put in an appearance, early for this part of the coastline.
Wilson’s Storm Petrel – 3 (1)
White-faced Storm Petrel – 10 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 8 (2)
Tahiti Petrel – 5 (2)
Kermadec Petrel – 4 (1)
Great-winged Petrel – 32 (10)
Providence Petrel – 35 (12)
Australasian Gannet – 3
Caspian Tern – 1
Crested Tern – 90 (60)
Silver Gull – 26 (20)
Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin 3+
Despite the conditions, a great day out was had by all and only two were physically ill. The White-faced Storm Petrel was Southports’ 76th species recorded since we (thanks to the late Tony Ashby) started using this venue in 1995. Before that we went out from Brisbane via Manly and Moreton Bay, which was initially started by the likes of Corben, Palliser & Stewart in, I think the early 1980s (correct me if I’m wrong Chris) and was handed over to me circa 1990.