• 15th September 2012, Southport Pelagic Trip, Southport, Qld, Australia

    Location: Southport, Queensland
    Vessel: 37 ft monohull M.V. Grinner
    Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)

    Weather conditions:
    A ridge along the southern Queensland coast in the wake of an east moving trough brought fairly settled conditions to south east Queensland. Light SW winds at the Seaway early, rising to 10-15 knots SE by mid morning, then gusting to 15-20 knots SE after midday. Generally fine conditions with just some light, high cloud out wide with visibility generally very good. Maximum air temperature 22 C, barometer 1020 hPa.

    Sea conditions:
    Light seas on a moderate swell on leaving the Seaway but with wind swinging round to SE gradually increased to 1.5 metre seas on 2 metre swells by mid morning. By midday some swell sets up to 3 metres. Sea surface temps. 18.5 C at the seaway, increasing to 22.1 C at the Shelf-break with a maximum of 23.1 C at the widest drift point.

    Left the Seaway at 0625 hrs and headed for the Riviera grounds but as conditions deteriorated decided to commence the drift just short of there at a known baitfish congregating area at 27 48.16S/153 53.11E, some 24 nautical miles ENE of the Southport Seaway. Crossed the Shelf-break at 0925 hrs, reaching the final drift point at 0940 hrs. Continued to drift in a SW direction until 1240 hrs then headed for home arriving back at the Seaway at 1530 hrs. Duration of trip 9 hrs 5 mins.

    Zero trawler activity on leaving the Seaway, so headed out over the Shelf at a speed adapted to the conditions which, although not severe, were deteriorating, with the SE swell starting to bump up. Very little activity close in save for a few Crested Terns and Australasian Gannets and the first Wedge-tailed Shearwater wasn't sighted until a good 10 nautical miles offshore at 0745 hrs. The first surprise of the day at 0815 hrs and still well on the Shelf was a couple of dark-phase Kermadec Petrels in close formation passing over the vessel heading north, giving excellent but all too brief views. The first of many Providence Petrels
    appeared astern of the vessel shortly afterward at 0835 hrs and still well on the Shelf, followed by the first Wilson's Storm-Petrel.

    On reaching the drift point some miles short of the Rivieras, the vessel was joined immediately by a Providence Petrel and the only Great-winged Petrel for the day. By 1000 hrs the Providence Petrel numbers had built to ten along with up to 3 Wilson's Storm-Petrels and a lone Wedge-tailed Shearwater. At 1025 hrs the first Short-tailed Shearwater arrived on the scene, a lone traveller that decided to peel off and stop for a well earned feed. This bird stayed for several minutes offering good views close the vessel both in flight and on the water. A few minutes later the first Cape Petrel flew in and spent some time with us, the only Hutton's Shearwater for the day appeared momentarily in the slick and Wilson's Storm-Petrel numbers had increased to four at a time.

    Providence Petrel numbers ebbed and flowed with more birds appearing from the north and at 1125 hrs another Short-tailed Shearwater arrived along with a lone Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, which provide reasonable enough views for a short time. By 1155 hrs the Providence Petrel numbers peaked at 25, along with Wedge-tailed Shearwater at 6. On heading for home at 1240 hours a few Providence Petrels were still astern with a further two Short-tailed Shearwaters which headed south. Crossing back
    over the Shelf a single Providence Petrel was sighted well inside at 1345 hrs and at 1415 hrs a second Cape Petrel appeared astern following the vessel for a while, just 10 nautical miles from shore, with a single Wilsons Storm-Petrel showing at the same time.

    Wilson's Storm-Petrel - 17 (4)
    Black-bellied Storm-Petrel - 1
    Cape Petrel - 2
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 15 (6)
    Short-tailed Shearwater - 4 (2)
    Fluttering Shearwater - 1
    Hutton's Shearwater - 1
    Kermadec Petrel - 2
    Great-winged Petrel - 1
    Providence Petrel - 93 (25)
    Australasian Gannet - 6 (2)
    Little Black Cormorant - 1
    Crested Tern - 28 (10)