Skipper: Craig Newton
Crew: Craig Newton
Pax: Paul Walbridge (organizer & leader), Brian Russell, Owen Prowse, Robert Dougherty, Stuart Warren, Colin Reid, Jim Sneddon, Smathi Chong, Richard Fuller, Wendy Wilesmith, Bert Harris, Kelly Farrell, Tony Bailey.
A trough off Fraser Island weakened to the south during the day with NW–N winds increasing in intensity to 30 knots as the day progressed. Moderate cloud cover, visibility generally quite good. Maximum air temp 26° C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Calm seas on leaving the Seaway but it was noticed that the wave sets were increasingly closer. Halfway across the Shelf the wind had really kicked in from the north and blowing at 20+ knots the seas and swell started to pick up. By the first drift seas to 1.7 metres on 2+ metre swell, with little N-S current running, conditions were uncomfortable to say the least. Sea surface temps. 19.3° C at the Seaway, rising to 22.7° halfway across the Shelf and 23.1° C at the widest point, just beyond the Shelfbreak.
Left the Seaway at 0705 hrs and headed out initially ENE to first drift point still on the Shelf, then ESE to our final drift at 1200 hrs approx. 43 kilometres ESE of Southport Seaway. Headed for home at 1305 hrs, arriving back at the Seaway at 1615 hrs. Total duration of trip 9 hrs 10 mins.
On leaving the Seaway a few prawn trawlers were spotted coming in and observed with little more than a few Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters which by now had returned for summer breeding. Very quiet heading out over the Shelf, just a few Gannets, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a lone Hutton’s Shearwater which was so well fed and plump looking that it could barely muster the energy to fly, despite the wind. The first Wilson’s Storm Petrel appeared at 0840 hrs and not easy to pick up in the increasing slop.
Conditions were worsening and when the first pterodroma in the shape of a Providence Petrel appeared at 0936 hrs, it was decided to try a drift, still well and truly on the Shelf. A few more Providence Petrels, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and the first Black-bellied Storm Petrel of the day appeared but then things petered out so we headed out in a slightly more southerly direction to make it more comfortable for the patrons.
On arriving at the second drift point just into Shelf waters a lone Humpback Whale was sighted slowly cruising south, shortly followed by a much smaller, narrower cetacean with a much different breaching action, heading north – an adult Minke Whale.
This drift, with plenty of berley thrown over was not very productive with most birds seemingly blown south with the increasingly strong northerly gusting winds. However a few Providence Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels made a few close passes around the back of the vessel to feed and be photographed. Shortly before leaving, a Great-winged (Grey-faced) Petrel appeared from the south and headed into the now substantial slick. Not much sighted on the way back home with the only new bird of the day being an adult Brown Booby crossing close astern.
Wilson Storm Petrel – 2 (1)
Black-bellied Storm Petrel – 4 (1)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 37 (6)
Hutton’s Shearwater – 1
Great-winged Petrel -1
Providence Petrel – 7 (3)
Australasian Gannet – 7 (5)
Brown Booby – 1
Pied Cormorant – 1
Crested Tern – 13 ( 2)
Silver Gull – 43 (30)
Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin – 6+
Humpback Whale -3
Minke Whale – 1
Our sixth pelagic for the year and one of the quietest, particularly for an August trip, usually known for its species diversity up here. Next trip is 19th September and the summer stuff & early migration should be happening.