• Saturday 26th August 2017 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, KIAMA, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    Here's what was seen outside the harbour on the pelagic from Kiama on the MV Kato on Saturday 26 August 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.

    Dwarf Minke Whale

    Leaving Kiama Harbour at 07.30 hrs AEST, we travelled SSE out to the shelf edge, stopping en route only to view some Humpback Whales on their way back from Queensland waters. We reached the shelf edge at 34° 45’ 38” S; 151° 09’ 39” E in 220m+ waters at 09.33 hrs and made the first of several stops over the course of the day, each time drifting south for a period then travelling further south along the edge of the continental shelf, staying in 220-240m+ waters, 30 kms SE of the harbour, and waiting to see what would come in to our chum of suet and chicken mince plus a generous dollop of cod-liver oil for the storm petrels. We varied this pattern only when we saw a Humpback Whale breeching to the west of us, so we travelled a couple of kilometres shorewards to 34° 49’ 23” S; 151° 08’ 33” E in 230m+ shelf edge waters, chummed and drifted south again. It was at this point that we had the cetacean highlight of the day, a visit from a distinctly curious Dwarf Minke Whale which circled the boat for 20-30 minutes. The banding team caught and banded two Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses while we were at the shelf edge, but, generally speaking, the birds were not particularly hungry so couldn’t be lured into catching range.

    NZ Fur Seals

    We turned back in at 34° 50’ 46” S; 151° 08’ 39” E at 12.55 hrs, after spending over 3 hours at the shelf edge, and travelled back to harbour, stopping briefly 8.2 km from the harbour to see what was around inshore, but with few birds coming in we continued our return journey, arriving back at 15.25 hrs.

    Juvenile Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross

    Juvenile Campbell Albatross

    Sea temperature was 17° inshore and 19° out at the shelf edge. There was a swell of 1-1.5m in the morning gradually easing to <1m in the afternoon.

    Highlights were the good range of albatross species and sea mammals.

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

    065 White-faced Storm Petrel - 3 (3)
    086 Wandering Albatross - 3+ (2) adults likely from one of the Indian Ocean populations; a distant brown bird was probably this species
    088 Black-browed Albatross - 2 (1) adults
    859 Campbell Albatross - 2 (1) 1 adult & 1 immature (its eye colour confirmed by photos)
    Black-browed/Campbell Albatross - 5+ (2) immatures
    091 Shy Albatross - 5+ (1) at least 1 bird as Tasmanian-breeding cauta
    864 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross - 50+ (19) mainly adults, but one wholly dark-billed immature present
    931 Buller’s Albatross - 1 (1)
    075 Grey-faced Petrel - 1 (1) a brief fly-by
    971 Providence Petrel - 5+ (2)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 10 (3)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater - 20+ (15)
    913 Hutton’s Shearwater - 2 (2)
    Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwater - 10 (2)
    104 Australasian Gannet - 10+ (3)
    096 Great Cormorant - 1 (1) just outside the harbour
    125 Silver Gull - 100+ (80) mainly just outside the harbour
    115 Greater Crested Tern - 20 (15)

    At least 6 returning Humpback Whales were seen inshore and near the shelf edge, a Dwarf Minke Whale was new for most observers, a pod of Common Dolphin passed by on the return journey and a group of 10 or so New Zealand Fur Seals loafing on the water surface made up the mammal list for the day.

    Graham Barwell