• 15th March 2014, Southport Pelagic Trip, Southport, Qld, Australia.

    Location: Southport, Queensland
    Date: 15/3/2014
    Vessel: 37 ft Steber monohull, MV Grinner
    Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)

    Weather conditions:
    A high near New Zealand extended a ridge along the southern coast of Queensland; bringing light SW to SE winds to SEQ waters swinging around to ENE the northerly later in the day, never reaching 10 knots. Some high cloud early with occasional rain squalls noted but mainly a fine sunny day with excellent viewing conditions. Maximum air temp. 27 C, barometer 1016 hPa.

    Sea conditions:
    An ex-cyclone south of the Solomon’s, heading for New Zealand produced powerful 2-2.5 metre swells but spaced well apart and with no seas to speak of throughout the day. Sea surface temps. 23 C at the Seaway, 25.3 C at the shelf-break and a maximum of 27.6 C out wide.


    Left the Seaway at 0605 hrs and proceeded out ENE to the Riviera grounds, checking the recently anchored FAD for recent wave damage, just outside the shelf-break, on the way. Reached the final drift point at 0845 hrs and continued to drift ESE at less than 2 knots until 1215 hrs, then headed for home. Reached the Southport Seaway at 1530 hrs, duration of trip 9hrs 25 mins.

    On leaving the Seaway there was a large flock of foraging Common Terns just to the north. We then encountered several trawlers from 3nm to 6 nm offshore and two were approached closely, revealing mostly Crested Terns and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but also 2 species of Cormorants and a few fresh plumaged Pomarine Jaegers and one or two Hutton's Shearwaters. Conditions were very calm crossing the shelf and few birds sighted with just the occasional foraging Wedge-tailed and Hutton’s Shearwaters.

    On reaching the final drift point there was very little wind to carry the scent of the berley and it was some minutes before the first Wilson’s Storm-Petrel appeared, followed shortly by a couple of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. It was a good 25 mins later at 0900 hrs before the first Tahiti Petrel arrived on the scene and just a few minutes later a dark phase Kermadec Petrel came into view close to the vessel and remained for some considerable time, mostly down the slick but making the occasional close recce around the vessel. At 0945 hrs the first of three Great-winged Petrels arrived at the stern, as usual a New Zealand bird and it wasn’t until 1025 hrs that a new species turned up in the shape of a Flesh-footed Shearwater. At 1035 hrs and for the second month in a row a solitary Black Noddy was sighted foraging around the slick.

    With almost a total lack of wind many of the birds in the slick were now resting on the sea surface with just the occasional close approach when the food supply ran out and with so few birds around, with the lack of competition, they spent most of the time away from the vessel. On heading for home a small foraging group of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Hutton’s Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwaters and a Tahiti Petrel were encountered just inside the shelf-break but very little else before arriving back at the seaway.


    Wilson's Storm Petrel - 4 (2)
    Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 278 (150)
    Flesh-footed Shearwater - 4 (2)
    Hutton's Shearwater - 6 (1)
    Tahiti Petrel - 16 (5)
    Kermadec Petrel - 1
    Great-winged Petrel - 3 (2) ‘gouldi’
    Great Cormorant - 4 (3)
    Pied Cormorant - 5 (2)
    Pomarine Jaeger - 4 (3)
    Black Noddy - 1
    Common Tern - 100
    Crested Tern - 440 (350)
    Silver Gull - 23 (20)

    There are still some spaces for the April 19th trip for anyone interested. Contact Paul Walbridge on (PH) (H) 3256 4124 (W) 3139 4584
    Cheers - Paul W.