Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, M.V. Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Weather conditions: A ridge that developed along the east Queensland coast had moved through by Sunday morning bringing calm conditions. Light SW wind early, rising to 7-8 knots from the SE by late morning. Visibility excellent with mainly cloud free skies, maximum air temp. 27* C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on a slight swell on leaving the Seaway and pretty much staying that way for the rest of the day with the swell rising to about 1.5 metres at most out wide. Sea surface temps. 21.6* C close in shore, rising to 23.1* C at the Shelf-break and 24.1* C at the widest point. EAC running at 2.7 knots at the widest drift point.
Left the Southport Seaway at 0613 hrs and with the favourable conditions initially headed for Jim*s Mountain ENE of Southport. On
nearing the Shelf-break heard reports on the radio of schools of Yellowfin Tuna along with Blue Marlin and numbers of accompanying birds slightly to the south at the Rivieras, so headed instead for there, 28 nm ENE of the Seaway. Crossed the Shelf-break at approx. 0830 hrs and reached the final drift point at 0900 hrs. Drifted south for the next 3 hours before heading for home at 1215 hrs, arriving back at the Seaway at 1515 hrs. Total duration of trip, 9 hrs 2 mins.
The local trawler fleet are in shut down mode at the moment (closed season) so little activity on leaving the Seaway, with nothing more than a couple of Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and a lone Pied Cormorant. Very little sighted crossing the Shelf, although the first Flesh-footed Shearwater of the Spring appeared astern just a few miles offshore, about a month later than usual. On throwing the shark liver berley bag over the stern before the Shelf-break another Flesh-footed appeared along with the first Providence Petrels of the day.
On reaching the Riviera grounds at 0900 hrs there was a fair bit of game-fishing charter activity with good numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Crested Terns and a lone Sooty Tern. It wasn't long - 0910 hrs - before the first Wilson's Storm-Petrels began to arrive in the slick, followed by more Providence Petrels and at 0945 hrs by the first Black-bellied Storm-Petrels. With the very light winds it was taking some time for the scent of the shark liver to carry any distance but the current was certainly spreading it wide. More Providence Petrels and the two Storm-Petrel species continued to arrive until at 1027 hours the first returning Tahiti Petrels of the Spring appeared
That was to be it for the next couple of hours, with more Wilson's and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Providence and Tahiti Petrels arriving on the scene, mainly from a northerly direction, given the prevailing wind direction. With nothing new turning up we headed for home at 1215 hrs with little extra noted save for a lone Flesh-footed Shearwater back on the Shelf. Just outside the Seaway a mother Hump-back Whale and year old calf put on quite a show for the punters for half an hour just to top the pleasant day off.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 68 (9)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel - 11 (3)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 121 (60)
Flesh-footed Shearwater - 5 (1)
Tahiti Petrel - 9 (3)
Providence Petrel - 37 (15)
Pied Cormorant - 1
Sooty Tern - 1
Crested Tern - 31 (20)
Silver Gull - 2