Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the SOSSA pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 28 May 2016. The list uses the IOC Checklist v6.2 for taxonomy, nomenclature & order of species and gives fairly conservative numbers. For the commoner species the numbers are estimates.
Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.40 hrs AEST in calm conditions, we headed SE into a large swell and proceeded directly to the shelf edge, so that we could have some time there before the winds picked up around lunchtime. We stopped at 34° 46’ 50” S; 151° 06’ 38” E, 25.8 km SE of the harbour in 200m+ shelf edge waters, chummed and drifted 5.5 km SE over 2 hours in the current coming from the north. We caught and banded 1 adult Campbell’s Albatross and an immature Black-browed/Cambell’s Albatross.
We then turned back in to 34° 43’ 58” S; 151° 00’ 28” E, 15 km SE of the harbour in 120m+ shelf waters, where we stopped and chummed, drifting 2.5 km SE in an hour and a quarter. We then proceded back into the harbour, arriving at 15.30 hrs.
Juvenile Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Sea conditions were affected by a large swell which had been prevalent along the coast for the previous few days, and by the wind which became strong in the middle of the day, but moderated in the afternoon and as we came closer inshore. Sea temperature was still warm, c. 21-22°, in contrast to the air temperature of c. 16°, which felt much cooler because of wind chill.
There were more birds around than during our April trip, with the first Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Northern Giant Petrel and White-fronted Terns of the season. The seasonal bounty of dead post-breeding cuttlefish has begun, so this may explain the increased numbers of birds seen.
Species seen, maximum at any one time in brackets:
063 Wilson’s Storm Petrel 20 15)
088 Black-browed Albatross 8 (3) adults
859 Campbell Albatross 2 (2) adults, 1 caught and banded
Black-browed/Campbell Albatross 1 (1) dark-eyed immature, caught and banded
091 Shy Albatross 5 (3) all presumed cauta since moulting; some possibly failed breeders
864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 7 (4) mainly adults, but one black-billed immature
937 Northern Giant Petrel 1 (1)
083 Fairy Prion 10 (3)
075 Great-winged Petrel 2 (2) one possibly of the WA/Indian Ocean race macroptera
971 Providence Petrel 10 (5)
068 Fluttering Shearwater 1 (1)
Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater 4+ (4)
104 Australasian Gannet 10+ (2) mainly adults but at least one immature at the shelf break
125 Silver Gull 2 (1)
115 Greater Crested Tern 1 (1) surprisingly small number
114 White-fronted Tern 4+ (3)
Australian Raven 1 (1) just outside the harbour
We saw one small pod of unidentified dolphins and a pod of >3 Humpback Whales heading north, the first of the season.