• Saturday 24th September 2016 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, KIAMA, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the SOSSA pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 24 September 2016. The list uses the IOC Checklist v6.3 for taxonomy, nomenclature & order of species. Note that v.6.3 has split what was previously Great-winged Petrel into Great-winged and Grey-faced Petrel. Today’s list gives fairly conservative numbers, which are estimates for the commoner species. There's also a .jpg file from Google Earth showing our route.

    Australasian Gannet's

    Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.35 hrs AEST we headed southeast, stopping briefly to watch a Humpback Whale with a small pod of Common Dolphins, then for a longer period 19.3 km SE of the harbour in shelf waters at 34° 44’ 53” S; 151° 02’ 55” E, where a large flock (400+) of Australasian Gannets were feeding on unidentified prey accompanied by several albatrosses and a large pod of Common Dolphins. This provided all on the boat with a thrilling spectacle as the circling birds plunged repeatedly into the water for a period of about 20 minutes. Whether the dolphins were assisting in rounding up the prey or simply feeding as well was difficult to determine.

    A few Australasian Gannet's

    We then continued out past the edge of the continental shelf into pelagic waters, where we stopped at 34° 47’ 38” S; 151° 10’ 47” E, 32.3 km SE of the harbour, where we chummed and drifted slowly east. We remained here for nearly 3 hours waiting to see what might come in, and banding 3 Providence Petrels, 1 recently fledged Shy Albatross race steadi (White-capped Albatross) from the Auckland Islands, and 1 young Black-browed/Campbell Albatross. It was distressing to see a number of injured albatrosses, one missing a foot, one with a broken leg, one with a leg entangled in fishing line. We tried to catch the latter to free it from the line but it wouldn’t come in close enough to be caught. It is likely that some (if not all) of these injuries have been caused by encounters with fishing lines.

    Injured White-capped Albatross. Right foot is missing.

    We then set a course back into the harbour, arriving at 15.52 hrs. Seas were >1m early on but diminished as the day wore on and the wind eased off. Sea temperatures were c. 18.5° inshore and c. 20.5° at the shelf edge.

    Highlights of the day were the feeding frenzy of Australasian Gannets and the good numbers of Providence Petrels.

    Species seen, maximum at any one time in brackets:

    065 White-faced Storm Petrel 1 (1)

    088 Black-browed Albatross 1 (1) adult

    Black-browed/Campbell Albatross 8 (5) immatures

    091 Shy Albatross 5 (3) 1 adult cauta, the rest recently-fledged steadi

    864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 2 (2) 1 adult and 1 immature

    931 Buller’s Albatross 3 (2)

    937 Northern Giant Petrel 1 (1)

    075 Grey-faced Petrel 2 (1)

    971 Providence Petrel 50+ (32)

    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater 20 (2)

    070 Sooty Shearwater? 1 (1) brief views of a bird flying away; identity not confirmed

    071 Short-tailed Shearwater 25 (17)

    068 Fluttering Shearwater 4 (1)

    106 Australian Pelican 1 (1) inshore

    104 Australasian Gannet 400+ (400+)

    125 Silver Gull 8 (5)

    115 Greater Crested Tern 6 (3)

    Little Corella 20 (20) just outside the harbour

    We saw a Humpback Whale, c. 60 Common Dolphin and 1+ Bottlenose Dolphin.

    Graham Barwell

    A close encounter with a Humpbacked Whale