28th December, 2002 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:15 returned at approx. 15:45.
Sea conditions: to 1.0m SE at first and to 1.0m NE in the afternoon.
Swell: SE to 1.5m.
Weather: Overcast at first with some showers, cloud persisting during the
morning but with sunshine increasing during the day.
Temperature range: 22 to 24°C.
Barometric pressure: 1014 rising.
Wind: SE 10kts at first, backing to NE 5 to 10 kts by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 21.8 to 26.3°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 30' - E 151° 14'.
A wonderful early summer day moderated by cooling easterly breezes and
persistent cloud cover. The weather over the previous few days had been
influenced by a high-pressure system centered in the Tasman Sea and a ridge
of low pressure extending along the NSW coast that generated easterly
breezes. The water offshore was warm and with very warm water expected
wide of the continental shelf our thoughts turned to tropical species.
Just outside the harbour several Little Penguins provided good views as did
Fluttering Shearwaters. As we cruised east, the usual assortment of summer
shearwaters were around us in good numbers and among the Jaegers were 2
LONG-TAILED JEAGERS, unusually close to shore.
Amidst the rain squalls at the 80 fathom line, were several Great-winged
Petrels raising our expectations for what might follow.
As is often the case in these waters, we encountered large flocks of
seabirds as we cruised over the continental slope into 25.8°C water at the
100-fathom line. Large numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were pursuing
fish with the first Arctic Jaeger of the day and a White-faced Storm-Petrel
also observed. SOOTY TERNS and LONG-TAILED JEAGERS also attended the
shearwater flocks. Several Wilson's Storm-Petrels were in view when to my
amazement a 2nd year LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY ALBATROSS zoomed up behind the
boat from the north. For several observers, whom we had assured that they
would not see an albatross all day due to the warm water, this was their
first view of an albatross! The bird settled on the water to feed with the
Great-winged Petrels. We circled to optimise the light conditions and many
photographs were obtained.
Interestingly, the LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY ALBATROSS seemed fascinated by
yellow objects; it practically flew into me as I stood on the bow (camera
shaking in hand) in my yellow wet weather gear. It was later observed to
seize a banana skin and was also fascinated by a small bright yellow rubber
duck child's bath toy!
We were unable to drift at this location for long given the 3.8 knot
northerly current, which was sweeping us down the coast. As we cruised
north east, Flesh-footed Shearwater numbers were good and Great-winged
Petrels were more numerous than we had seen for several years. Another
albatross appeared in the distance and, apart from being a white one,
proved difficult to identify to species. Stopping the boat and berleying
heavily, we attracted the bird to us and after careful observation deduced
that it was a White-capped Albatross in its 3rd year at sea.
Once again we had drifted a long way south as a result of stopping the
engine so we were forced to resume a NE course. Passing through more
shoals of tuna we observed a group of at least 8 Risso's Dolphins. A large
white-bellied petrel appeared over the wake and this WHITE-NECKED PETREL
caused us to stop the boat again. As everyone was watching the petrel, I
observed an albatross circling the boat. I assumed that it would be the
White-capped that had followed us for some time returning for some more
berley but to my great surprise it was an adult BULLER'S ALBATRSOSS! As if
this didn't cause too much excitement for those looking at the WHITE-NECKED
PETREL, Carl Loves, our skipper, pointed out a distant TAHITI PETREL to me.
We did not know what to look at or follow, eventually we decided to try to
follow the TAHITI PETREL to bring it into decent viewing range but failed.
Our return voyage was pleasant but did not produce any further rarities.
One bird of note, however, was a stunning freshly plumaged juvenile
Solander's Petrel that glistened in the bright afternoon sunlight.
Interestingly, SOOTY TERNS outnumbered Crested Terns and LONG-TAILED
JAEGERS outnumbered Arctic Jaegers!
A very enjoyable summer day at sea included incredible mid-summer sightings
of LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY and BULLER'S ALBATROSS and good views of
WHITE-NECKED PETREL. Frequent views of SOOTY TERN and LONG-TAILED JAEGER
among the high numbers of summer seabirds made this a day to remember.
Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting
Species code: Species name: Numbers:
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 4 (2)
073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 150+ (65+)
971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 1 juvenile
774 WHITE-NECKED PETREL P. cervicalis 1
920 TAHITI PETREL Pseudo bulweria rostrata 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 90+ (40+)
917 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 5 (8)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 900+ (350+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 3 (1)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 6 (2)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 50+ (20+)
931 BULLER'S ALBATROSS Thalassarche bulleri 1 adult
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1 3rd year
093 LIGHT-MANTLED SOOTY ALBATRSOSS Phoebetria palpebrata 1 2nd year
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 4 (3)
065 White-faced Storm-Petrel Pelagodroma marinus 2 (1)
099 Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 4 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 11 (4)
128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 5 (2)
933 LONG-TAILED JAEGER S. longicauda 7 (3)
945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 120+ (35+)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 7 (6)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 32 (18)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 7 (2)
120 SOOTY TERN S. fuscata 14 (5)
In the harbour:
099 Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 1
26 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 12
Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus 8+
All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no profit to the organisers
being operated as group boat charters for the benefit of all who wish to
join us. If you would like to join one of these trips please contact us as
To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic Trips that depart on the
4th Saturday of each month contact:
SOSSA: Phone 02 4271 6004.
Carl Loves Phone: 0427 423 500
Pete Milburn: Mobile 0428 249 506, 02 6255 1313 (AH) or 02 6125 4173 (BH)
To make a booking for Sydney Pelagics, which depart on the 2nd Saturday of
each month contact
Tony Palliser Ph; 02-99001678 (w), 02-94115272 (h)
To make a booking for Eden Pelagics, which are run on the 5th Sunday of
each month it occurs.
Barbara Jones or Ph (02) 6495 7390
Note: SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association
Dr P.J. Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
+61 2 6125 4173 'Phone
+61 2 6125 4326 FAX
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