PORT FAIRY (PF), VIC, PELAGIC
TRIP REPORT, 1 DECEMBER 2002
Berry, David Burren, Pat Commerford, Gail D’Alton, Greg Hunt, Philip Jackson,
Frank Mitchell, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, Paul Sutherland, John Vaitkunof,
Geoff Walker & Mike Carter (leader).
High-pressure system ridging in from the west. Partially cloudy, then overcast
in a.m., cloudless in p.m. Always bright with excellent, sharp, visibility.
Cold. Easterly wind from 5 to 15 knots, strongest inshore in
SEA: Sloppy (1 m
waves), on a low to medium (1.5-2.0 m) SW swell. So the ride was a bit joggily
going out, and a little bumpy, with plenty of spray, returning to the east from
Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Going out, one person got sick, but
recovered. One got soaked enjoying the spray on the easterly leg
ACTIVITY: Sailed at
06.15. Headed out on a COG of 206º at 14.0 Kts. Very few birds seen until we
were well offshore when feeding flocks of Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fairy
Prions were encountered between 50 and 90 fathoms. Here, patches of krill turned
the sea brown and the sounder revealed shoals of fish deep below. Then we had
the first of at least 8 WHITE-HEADED PETRELS. At the urging of our skipper we
moved quickly into deep water beyond the shelf break to avoid having to wait
while an oil exploration vessel towed its 4 Nm of seismic lines across our
course. We made three berley stops within a 3 Nm (5 km) radius of 38º49’S
141º50’E between 09.15 and 12.30 at depths of between 300 & 106 fathoms.
Here we had an unprecedented variety of Petrels. Great-winged and GOULD’S
PETRELS (only two previous records in the 24 year history of these trips), were
constantly in view and we had Victoria’s first ever COOK’S PETREL. Two
WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS attracted by our shark-liver and chopped fish berley came
within metres. One of two LONG-TAILED JAEGERS (an adult in winter plumage) added
to the entertainment. As we started in, some lucky observers had a very close
view of a COMMON DIVING-PETREL. We were speeding in from the shelf break, when a
larger ‘cookilaria’ type petrel flew past heading the other way. I FANCY
that it was a BARAU’S PETREL. Although all agreed that it was about the size of
a White-necked Petrel, the underparts were poorly seen and there was some
disagreement regarding the head pattern so it will remain just a fancy. On our
more westerly return course, there were even larger numbers of Fairy Prions
feeding on the krill around the 80-fathom line. We cruised the western and
northern shores of LJPI from 14.35 to 15.05. Docked at 16.00.
FISH: The sounder
detected large shoals of fish well below the surface out
1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and one associating with a pod of at
least 30 Common Dolphins 26 Nm SSW of PF.
species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity and some were
abundant. Others, for instance all albatrosses, Flesh-footed and Fluttering
Shearwaters, Storm-Petrels (especially White-faced), Gannets and Crested Terns,
were notable for their scarcity or absence. The highlights are in capitals.
Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break
Penguin: 1 on
Petrel: 130 (50). Only 2 nominate race.
PETREL: 8 (2), 3 offshore.
[BARAU’S PETREL: possibly 1].
Whatever, an unusual petrel.
COOK’S PETREL: 1.
BARC submission required.
GOULD’S PETREL: 16
PETREL: 2 (2).
Shearwater: 3 (1), (1 offshore).
Sooty Shearwater: 2
Shearwater: >1,000; mostly offshore, c. 80 inshore in
Albatross: 2 stage 4, (1 gibsoni, sub-species of other
Albatross: 15 (7), all sub-adult or juv melanophris.
cauta 20 (6), (11 offshore).
Albatross: 11 (4), (3 offshore). Only 1 adult.
Gannet: c. 60, (20 inshore & 40 offshore).
Cormorant: 6 on LJPI.
2; 1 moulting adult mostly in winter plumage.
Kelp Gull: 1 imm.
Silver Gull: 70 on
Crested Tern: 3, (1
inshore, 1 offshore & 1 pelagic).