|Hi All, first of all, I too would like to farewell Bill Wakefield and offer my commiserations to his family. I never personally met Bill but knew all about his efforts with pelagic organising and know all to well the hard work involved and how frustrating it can be sometimes but it does have it's rewards. Below is the trip report for last Saturday from Southport.
Location: Southport, Queensland.
Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, M.V. Grinner
A high over southern Australia extended a strengthening ridge into Queensland, this combined with a low developing off the coast of NSW brought increasing SW-SE winds onto the south Queensland coastline. On leaving the Seaway, light SW winds which gradually increased as the wind shifted more to the south then south-east. By mid morning wind had reached a good 20 knots, increasing to 30 knots by midday. Light to moderate cloud cover during the earlier part of the day with intermittent sunny spells, with the southerly change coming through cloud increasing by mid afternoon with increasing rain squalls. Visibility good, maximum air temperature, 20 C barometric pressure, 1016 hPa.
Light seas on a moderate swell on leaving the Seaway, increasing on crossing the Shelf and by the Shelf-break conditions had really deteriorated. By midday, with the increasing wind, combined with the EAC current running at 1.5 knots causing seas to 1.5 metres on swellsets up to 3+ metres. Sea-surface temps. 18.2 C inshore, rising to 19.6C halfway across the Shelf with a maximum of 21.8 C at the widest driftpoint.
Left the Seaway 30 mins earlier than originally planned in order to try and beat the forecasted deteriorating weather. Originally planned to reach the Riviera grounds 28 nautical miles ENE of Southport but with the conditions not looking to get any better, decided to call the final drift at the Shelf-break some 22 nautical miles ENE of Southport. Reached the Shelf-break at 0900 hrs and continued to drift SE until 1130hrs when with the worsening conditions decided to head for home. Arrived back at the Seaway at 1430 hrs, total duration of trip, 8 hrs.
Just after leaving the Seaway we encountered the first of two returning trawlers, this one having a good number of birds around it, mainly Silver Gulls with just a few Crested Terns but also a large number of the first returning Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Shortly after a second trawler was encountered but had already cleaned up so there was little around it. We headed on out towards the Shelf-break with just a few Australasian Gannets, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but also the first of a small northward movement of Hutton's Shearwaters which went day long. On reaching the drift point at 0900 hrs. a solitary Providence Petrel and Wilson's Storm Petrel immediately came to the vessel to feed and these were soon joined by Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and one or two Hutton's Shearwaters. The numbers of Providence Petrels started to swell and at 0945 hrs the first albatross of the day, a juvenile Shy type Albatross arrived and spent the next few minutes cautiously circling the vessel, this was ultimately identified as a fresh plumaged juvenile New Zealand White-capped Albatross Thalassarche cauta steadi. The predominant Providence Petrels had now been largely replaced by Wedge-tailed Shearwaters which flocked to the now substantial slick. At 1025 hrs an adult Yellow-nosed Albatross arrived at the back of the vessel, which prompted the White-capped Albatross to finally join in and come in close to feed and be photographed, Shy & White-capped Albatrossare not a common sight in SEQ waters.
The first of several Black-bellied Storm-Petrels arrive at the stern at the same time as the Yellow-nosed Albatross and more Wilson's Storm-Petrels began to appear. The numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters & Providence Petrels were still being replenished but nothing else much was arriving until 1055 hrs when a juvenile Black-browed Albatross joined the still present White-capped & Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. By now conditions had deteriorated somewhat, to the extent that sheets of waterhad begun to crash across the well-deck of the vessel, drenching everyone outside the cabin, so at 1130 hrs it was decided to head for home. The conditions made viewing difficult on the return trip back andjust a few more Hutton's Shearwaters were noted. Due the skipper Craigs boating skills, no one was noted to be physically ill, remarkable, taking into account the conditions and the fact that a few were first timers.
Wilson's Storm -Petrel - 7 (3)
Black-bellied Storm-Petrel - 5 (2)
Black-browed Albatross - 1
New Zealand White-capped Albatross - 1
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 294 (150)
Hutton's Shearwater - 21 (5)
Providence Petrel - 43 (20)
Australasian Gannet - 8 (3)
Crested Tern - 11 (6)
Silver Gull - 49 (35)