Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 24 June 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. There's also a map from Google Earth showing our route.

    Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEST, we had hardly gone a few hundred metres before we encountered the first of what would be a large number of migrating Humpback Whales we saw over the course of the day. After shadowing the pod for some time, we then turned east and south east, proceeding out to 34° 43’ 40” S; 151° 04’ 47” E, 21 km from the harbour in 140m+ shelf waters, where we stopped and chummed, 09.20-10.05 hrs, drifting steadily 1 km to the NE. We then went out to the shelf edge in preparation for another chumming session, but the combination of a current from the north and a southwest wind produced rough conditions, making it impossible for the boat to keep its bow into the wind with the engines off. So we turned and headed back west, trying to find calmer conditions, slowing at 34° 44’ 06” S; 151° 06’ 47” E, 24 km from the harbour in 170m+ waters, but found the conditions too difficult.

    Wandering Albatross. Photo: Rob Hynson

    We found better conditions further in, so stopped at 34° 43’ 05” S; 151° 02’ 28” E, 17 km E of the harbour in 130m+ shelf waters, where we chummed and drifted 2.25 km NE, for nearly two hours, 11.30-13.25 hrs. Bird numbers gradually built up with eventually 6 species of albatross coming in to investigate what was on offer. We then continued back in towards the harbour, stopping briefly 2.65 km from it at 34° 40’ 14” S; 150° 53’ 20” E, where we caught and banded an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, the only bird banded for the day. We arrived back in harbour at 15.30 hrs.

    Shy Albatross. Photo: Rob Hynson

    Sea temperature was 19° inshore in seas >1m, while out at the shelf edge it was 21.7° in seas >2m.

    Highlights were the good range of albatross species present and the migrating Humpback Whales.

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

    063 Wilson’s Storm Petrel - 1 (1) 1 white-rumped dark storm petrel seen briefly at our first chumming spot, probably this species but not confirmed
    065 White-faced Storm Petrel - 1 (1)
    086 Wandering Albatross - 1 (1) an adult bird, likely from one of the Indian Ocean populations
    088 Black-browed Albatross - 10 (4) adults
    859 Campbell Albatross - 2 (1) adults
    Black-browed/Campbell Albatross - 8 (4) dark-eyed immatures; one bird thought to be a probable immature Campbell, going on extent of dark eye-patch
    091 Shy Albatross - 5 (3) those seen well appeared to be steadi from the NZ subantarctic islands
    864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 10 (6) mainly adults, but one wholly dark-billed immature present
    931 Buller’s Albatross - 2 (2)
    937 Northern Giant Petrel - 1 (1) very young juvenile with poorly-defined bill tip; consensus was this species rather than Southern
    083 Fairy Prion - 1 (1)
    971 Providence Petrel - 10 (4)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater - 1 (1)
    Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater - 1 (1)
    104 Australasian Gannet - 70 (50)
    100 Little Pied Cormorant - 1 (1) just outside the harbour
    099 Australian Pied Cormorant - 1 (1) just outside the harbour
    White-bellied Sea Eagle - 1 (1)
    125 Silver Gull - 100+ (80)
    115 Greater Crested Tern - 15 (7)
    114 White-fronted Tern - 1 (1)

    A large number of Humpback Whales were seen, 1-10 kms offshore, heading north to their breeding grounds. We saw them blowing at a distance and managed excellent close views of these animals as we went out and came back in, including a pod of 6 on our return leg.

    Graham Barwell