Location: Southport, Queensland
Vessel: 37 ft Steber Monohull MV Grinner
Crew: Craig Newton (skipper)
Weather conditions: A high over the Tasman formed a ridge up the Queensland coast bringing light SE-E winds to the SEQ coastline. A generally fine day with some light high cloud, visibility generally good. Winds light, SE-E, 5-12 knots. Maximum air temperature 28 ° C, barometer 1016 hPa.
Sea conditions: Calm seas on a light swell close inshore rising .5 metre sea on up to 1.5 metre swell out wide. Sea surface temps. 24.9° C at the seaway rising to 26.5° C out wide. EAC running at 3.2 knots out wide.
Kermadec Petrel. Photo: Paul Walbridge
Left the seaway at 0545 hrs and headed out across the shelf aiming for just inside Jim’s Mountain some 28 nautical miles ENE of Southport, with the aim of drifting south over the Riviera grounds. Reached the final drift point at 0907 hrs and continued to drift until 1140 hrs, then headed up the slick before heading for home. Arrived back at the seaway at 1425 hrs, duration of trip 8 hrs 35 mins.
On leaving the seaway, at least three trawlers were encountered, the first one was accompanied by at least 100 Silver Gulls, about fifty Crested Terns and a couple of Pied Cormorants. The close together second and third trawlers revealed a couple of hundred Silver Gulls, about a hundred Crested Terns, three Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and three Pied Cormorants. Nothing much then until 0645 hrs approx. ten nautical miles from shore when a couple of Pomarine Jaegers took off from the sea surface and headed NW. The numbers of foraging Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were starting to increase but only in ones and twos and when we reached the edge of the Continental Shelf at 0830 hrs we had important job to do. Months earlier a baby Loggerhead Turtle had been handed into Sea World, where it was rehabilitated to almost yearling size and then handed to our skipper for release, which went without incident.
At 0858 hrs, the first Tahiti Petrel appeared, we arrived at the final drift point at 0907 hrs and after a quiet start three Tahiti Petrels and a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel arrived in the slick at 0925 hrs. Ten minutes later and three more Tahiti Petrels arrived as a lone Sooty Tern flew past the vessel. By 0940 hrs another three Tahiti Petrels had joined us as another Sooty Tern flew by and then a all dark Kermadec Petrel flew in showing a bit of moult in the primaries. Crested Terns had begun to come in to the slick and at 1000 hrs the sole Flesh-footed Shearwater joined in briefly. Over the next hour and a half, mainly Tahiti Petrels kept arriving and the Crested Tern numbers rose to twenty, the it was time to leave for home. Nothing new of note on the journey back, save for a lone Short-tailed Shearwater at 1310 hrs and three Common Terns foraging just outside the seaway.
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel – 1
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 17 (3)
Flesh-footed Shearwater – 1
Short-tailed Shearwater – 1
Tahiti Petrel – 18 (3)
Kermadec Petrel – 1
Pied Cormorant – 5 (3)
Pomarine Jaeger – 2
Sooty Tern – 2 (1)
Common Tern – 3 (2)
Crested Tern – 173 (100)
Silver Gull – 300 (200)