• 4th February 2012, Southport Pelagic Trip, Southport, QLD, Australia

    Hi All, last Saturdays' report from Southport Queensland.

    Location: Southport, Queensland
    Date: 4/2/2012
    Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, MV Grinner
    Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)

    Weather conditions:
    A high near New Zealand and with a low forming in the Coral Sea extended a ridge onto the Southern Queensland coast. Light SW winds early on, switching around to S-SE by mid-morning to about 8 knots, increasing to about 12 knots by mid afternoon. Some high cloud early on becoming patchy with some bright sunny periods but with some rain squalls out wide. Maximum air temperature 29 C, barometric pressure 1002 hPa.

    Sea conditions:
    Light seas on a low swell on leaving the Seaway gradually rising to about 1.5 metre swell by the 50 fathom mark and out wide at the final drift point seas to .5 metre on swell sets to 2 metres. Sea surface temps. all over the place due to the large volumes of fresh water still entering the ocean with discoloured water still evident out wide. Sea surface temps. 24.4 C at the Seaway dropping down to as low as 23 C half way across the Shelf and peaking at 26.8 C at the widest drift point. Current out wide running at approx. 1.5 knots.


    Exited the Seaway at 0600 hrs and headed ENE to the Riviera Grounds some 26 nm from Southport. Crossed the Shelf-break at 0830 hrs, reaching the first drift point at 0912 hrs and continued to drift until 1200 hrs then headed for home. Arrived back at the Southport Seaway at 1445 hrs, total duration of trip 8 hrs 45 minutes.

    On leaving the Seaway, we encountered the largest fleet of returning trawlers I can recall with at least nine passing us on their way back to the Seaway. The trawler procession continued for about 25 minutes over a distance of about 3.5 nm. with mostly Crested Terns, Silver Gulls and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters involved but also Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters, a few Little Black Cormorants and a lone Pomarine Jaeger. However, about halfway through this procession the first good sighting of the day, a Buller's Shearwater appeared to port but only too briefly as it headed nor-eastward away from us.

    Traversing the Shelf revealed nothing more than a few more Wedge-tailed, Fluttering & Hutton's Shearwaters, another Pomarine
    Jaeger and the first Flesh-footed Shearwater of the day, with a few more Hutton's Shearwaters before reaching the Riviera Grounds. Reached the final drift point at 0912 hrs with a solitary Crested Tern in attendance but with the first Tahiti Petrel of the day appearing shortly after. For approx. the next hour more Tahiti Petrels and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters along with a lone Pomarine Jaeger appeared in the slick to the south of the vessel.

    At 1005 hrs the next surprise bird of the day appeared, arriving with a Tahiti Petrel from the north, the first Southport Streaked Shearwater in a couple of years & it promptly headed down the slick to where the other birds had congregated. Not all the punters on board had a satisfactory view of the bird (new for some) not to mention the photographic opportunity missed, so shortly afterward we headed down south through the slick and promptly relocated the bird and briefly observed the bird close enough for reasonable photographs. It truly is one of the more impressive species of shearwater on the planet.

    Over the next two hours not much changed with mostly more Tahiti Petrels (up to 7 in one sweep) Flesh-footed and Wedge-tailed
    Shearwaters appearing from both inshore and from the north. Headed back to shore at 1200 hrs and not much noted travelling back over the Shelf until almost back at the Seaway, with small groups of feeding Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.


    Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 305 (100)
    Buller's Shearwater - 1
    Flesh-footed Shearwater - 3 (2)
    Streaked Shearwater - 1
    Fluttering Shearwater - 2 (1)
    Hutton's Shearwater - 6 (3)
    Tahiti Petrel - 35 (7)
    Little Black Cormorant - 3 (2)
    Pomarine Jaeger - 3 (1)
    Crested Tern - 411 (300)
    Silver Gull - 50 (30)