Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 27 May 2017. The list uses the IOC Checklist v7.2 (2017) for taxonomy, nomenclature & order of species. It gives fairly conservative numbers, which are estimates for the commoner species.

    Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEST, we headed east out to the shelf edge at 34° 45’ 01” S; 151° 08’ 10” E, 26.7 km from the harbour in 200m+ waters, where we made the first of three stops near the shelf edge, chumming and drifting 430m N in the weak current, but found birds very scarce. With few birds to be seen and hoping to find more action further out, we motored into 530m+ pelagic waters at 34° 45’ 41” S; 151° 12’ 29” E, 33.3km E of the harbour, where we stopped, chummed and drifted NW for 50 mins, but bird numbers were still low. Stuck for ideas about the best location for birds on a very quiet day, we returned to the shelf edge at 34° 46’ 16” S; 151° 06’ 56” E in 210m+ waters, where we chummed and drifted for an hour and twenty minutes in the very calm conditions, but without managing to find or attract much of interest other than a solitary Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, which disdained our chum and remained floating on the water 20m off the back of the boat.

    In frustration we turned back in towards the shore, hoping to find migrating whales and any birdlife which they might attract. We stopped for an hour at 34° 42’ 52” S; 150° 59’ 21” E, 12.7 km E of the harbour in 110m+ shelf waters, but encountered no whales here and very few birds. In disgust we gave up and headed back into harbour arriving at 15.50 hrs, after what was the quietest day the old hands could remember.

    Sea temperature was 20.1° at the shelf edge in very calm conditions; little wind and often glassy seas. Species numbers and diversity were very low with the highlights probably being the cetaceans rather than the birds.

    Species seen outside the harbour, maximum at any one time in brackets:

    063 Wilson’s Storm Petrel - 1 (1)
    088 Black-browed Albatross - 1 (1) adult
    091 Shy Albatross - 2 (1) subspecies not identified
    864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 2 (1)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater - 1 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet - 50 (14) mainly adults, but a few juveniles present
    125 Silver Gull - 46 (18)
    115 Greater Crested Tern - 15 (4)

    Two pods with a total of six Humpback Whales seen on the way out to the shelf and a single animal on the way back. The first pod was only about 1 km offshore and performed well, occasionally breeching. Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphins were also about, with a pod of c. 10 repeatedly leaping right out of the water as they rode the bow wave of a large container ship out near the shelf edge. This was probably the highlight of the day.

    Graham Barwell