Port Fairy Pelagic 26 May 2002

Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic 26 May 2002
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 12:24:36 -0000

Observers: Frank Mitchell, Philip Jackson, Russell Thompson, Greg Hunt, Jim & Lyn Mason, Greg Pyers, Bob Gott, Graham Patterson, Helen Mill, Geoff Walker, Sean Dooley and Mike Carter.  This was a private trip organised by Frank Mitchell. Report prepared by Mike Carter.

Weather: A high-pressure area was centred over western Bass Strait. Mainly cloudy but usually bright and fine with good visibility.  Several drizzle showers, (heavier rain distantly). Cold. Very light winds, < 5 Kts N at first, freshening under squalls to 8-10 Kts and turning E as we moved offshore but periods of absolute calm.

Sea: Very slight to slight on a low swell. Thus it was an exceptionally comfortable ride and no one was sick. This allowed some inappropriate behaviour. One couple prepared their lunch aboard using a knife to slice tomatoes and other vegetables!!!!! In normal conditions they’d have sliced their hands and possibly other passengers. In future, finger food only or go hungry please.

Activity: Sailed at 07.10. Just beyond the river mouth we encountered a Hump-backed Whale and followed as it moved eastwards. Also flocks of Fluttering Shearwaters (c.2,000) and Crested Terns. Sailed slowly through these then headed out on a COG of 209º at 13.4 Kts. Birds were widespread particularly Gannets and Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. 16 km out we were surprised to see a Barn Owl heading NNW. At the 50 fathom line (50 km out) there were flocks of seabirds where a concentration of krill cast a pink shade over the sea. These included 200 Fairy Prions. As we headed for deeper water we spotted a trawler working to the SE so we chased it. We rendezvoused at 11.00 and berleyed there with fish scraps and shark liver till 12.00 (38º51’S 141º57’E in 220 fathoms). This attracted a few Petrels, >80 Albatrosses and >20 Storm-Petrels. Moved west about 10 km and then N to berley again from 12.40 to 13.00 at 38º47.8’S 141º50.9’E at the shelf break before heading in. Cruised the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Is. (LJPI) from 14.50 to 15.15. As we approached Port Fairy we encountered a large aggregation of feeding mammals and seabirds including 110 Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. Docked at 16.30.

Mammals: One Hump-backed Whale. A small number of Australian Fur Seals were scattered throughout (only one in the pelagic zone),  >200 were feeding inshore near PF & 1,000’s loafing at LJPI. >200 Common Dolphins and c.10 Bottle-nosed Dolphins were feeding inshore near PF.

Fish: The sounder revealed an abundance of fish in several areas.

Birds: 26 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated excellent diversity. The abundance was also high. The highlights are emphasized in bold type. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin: 14 near LJPI.

Common Diving-Petrel: 2. 1 (pelagic) gave an excellent sustained view flying

parallel to the boat at 30 kph & 1 offshore.

S. Giant Petrel: 2 (1 ad. offshore, 1 juv. pelagic). Both just flying past.

N. Giant Petrel: 2 (1 ad. inshore, 1 juv.  photographed at the boat).

Cape Petrel; 1.

Great-winged Petrel: 8 (3) of the nominate race.

Fairy Prion: 270 (150), 250 offshore.

Sooty Shearwater: 1 offshore.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 10 (2), (7 offshore, 2 inshore).

Fluttering Shearwater: 2,000 inshore.

Wandering Albatross: 5. 4 exulans, 3 stage 4 & 1 juv., and 1 stage 6 gibsoni.

N. Royal Albatross: 1 passed in the middle distance.

Black-browed Albatross: 60 (35). 45 melanophris (16 offshore, 4 inshore). 

 15 impavida mostly adults in the pelagic zone.

Shy Albatross: cauta 60 (50), (9 offshore, 1 inshore).

Grey-headed Albatross: 1 juv. offshore.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 146 (110), (only 4 pelagic, 22 offshore, 120 inshore).

Buller’s Albatross: 5 (3) all adults, photos of some ( 1 offshore).

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 35 (20), (1 offshore).

Grey-backed Storm-Petrel: 5, (photos).

Australasian Gannet: c. 300, (150 offshore, many feeding; 150 inshore).

Black-faced Cormorant: 3. 2 on LJPI & 1 near PF.

Pacific Gull: 1 inshore near PF.

Kelp Gull: 2 on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 33. 1 offshore, 25 on LJPI & 7 inshore near PF.

Crested Tern: c.440. 40 offshore over the krill & 400 feeding inshore.

White-fronted Tern: 1 inshore.

Also of interest, @ 08.30 a Barn Owl flying WNW 2 m asl 16 kms off PF.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136
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