Vessel: 37 ft Steber Monohull, MV Grinner
Weather conditions: A high over the Tasman extended a ridge across the southern Coral Sea, bringing moderate to fresh NW-N winds to the SEQ coastline. Fine conditions, with almost no cloud but some haze, visibility generally good. Wind NW-N, 20 knots plus for most of the day. Maximum air temp. 30° C, Barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Light seas on a low swell on leaving the seaway, gradually increasing across the shelf until at the final drift point up to 1.5 metre seas, on up to at times 2 metre swell. Sea surface temps. 22° C at the seaway, 25° C at the shelf-break and a maximum of 25.5° C at the widest point. EAC running at 3.5 knots.
Tahiti Petrel. Photo: Paul Walbridge
Left the seaway at 0600 hrs and headed north along South Stradbroke Island beach for a few miles before heading ENE to minimise the effect of the increasing northerly wind. Reached the shelf-break at 0910 hrs and decided to head for the 120 fathom mark, which was reached at 0920 hrs where we commenced the drift. Drifted ESE for approx. 7.5 nm and decided to head for home at 1130 hrs in a WSW direction, once again to give us a better run in, into the northerly, closer to the coast. Reached the seaway at 1610 hrs, duration of trip, 10 hrs 10 mins.
On leaving the seaway, not much around as the only two trawlers present were already cleaned up and entering the seaway, as we exited but a few Crested Terns and Silver Gulls, also a couple of Little Pied Cormorants were sighted as were five foraging Little Terns shortly after while heading up past the South Stradbroke Island beach. At 0615 hrs the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were sighted with a loose group of three birds heading north, along with a couple of Crested Terns. Then at 0640 hrs a large bird approached astern and then around the bows heading north, a Brown Booby. A few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Crested Terns were being encountered also heading north, when at 0717 hrs a single Pomarine Jaeger was sighted, heading south.
Shortly after at 0725 hrs, the first Short-tailed Shearwater appeared, heading south and at 0755 hrs yet another single Pomarine Jaeger. Nothing much then until another couple of southbound Short-tailed Shearwaters at 0820 hrs followed shortly afterward at 0825 hrs by another Pomarine Jaeger. With the berley bag being dragged astern a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were now following astern and at 0910 hrs a couple of Sooty Terns were sighted. The drifted was started at 0920 hrs and shortly after at 0935 hrs the first Tahiti Petrel appeared along with a solitary Crested Tern and five Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. At 0950 hrs another six Short-tailed Shearwaters passed to the south, with another couple of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Tahiti Petrels joining the slick.
By 1010 hrs another five Tahiti Petrels had arrived as another seven Short-tailed Shearwaters passed through to the south, whilst at 1035 hrs the only Wilson’s Storm-Petrel of the day arrived in the slick, along with more Tahiti Petrels and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Just before departing another three Tahiti Petrels arrived from the south into the slick, along with three more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. Shortly after heading for home at 1140 hrs another couple of Sooty Terns were sighted, along with another southward heading Short-tailed Shearwater. Heading back over the shelf, a couple of Tahiti Petrels were sighted at 1215 hrs and another well on the shelf at 1335 hrs. More Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters plus Crested Terns were recorded heading back over the shelf with a second Brown Booby heading north at 1520 hrs and the last new bird of the day, three Common Terns foraging just outside the seaway. With the 20 knot northerly combined with a 3.5 knot N→S current the chum soon disappeared rapidly down the slick, taking the birds with it, however this made it easier to count the new birds arriving from downwind.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel – 1
Wedge-tailed Storm-Petrel – 28 (5)
Short-tailed Shearwater – 18 (7)
Tahiti Petrel – 16 (5)
Brown Booby – 2 (1)
Little Pied Cormorant – 2
Pomarine Jaeger – 3 (1)
Sooty Tern – 4 (2)
Common Tern – 3
Little Tern – 5
Crested Tern – 22 (6)
Silver Gull – 6