PORT FAIRY (PF), VIC, PELAGIC
TRIP REPORT, 19 JANUARY 2003
Lester (organiser) Rob Berry, Harry Clarke, Gail D’Alton, Gina Hopkins, Alex
Lara, Steve Mulholland, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, Joy Tansey, Geoff Walker,
Glenn White & Mike Carter (leader).
anticyclone was centred over the area, (western Bass Strait). Cloudless with
excellent visibility. Mild. SE wind to 5 knots in a.m. rising in p.m. to 12
knots by 14.15. Once again, forecast wind speeds (to 20 knots) did not
SEA: Slight (0.5 to
1 m waves), on a low (1.5 m) SW swell, rising as we came in to choppy (1.0 to
1.5 m white-crested waves) on a 2 m swell. So a smoothish ride going out, some
instability while stationary, and plenty of spray on the return, especially from
Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI). Three, sick briefly, quickly
ACTIVITY: Sailed at
06.40. Headed out on a COG of 202º at 13.5 Kts. Apart from one Fluttering and a
few Short-tailed Shearwaters, few birds were seen until we were well offshore
when feeding flocks of Gannets, Short-tailed Shearwaters and then Fairy Prions
were encountered, mainly between 40 and 60 fathoms. Among the Prions was a
LITTLE SHEARWATER, the bird of the day being the first confidently identified on
these excursions. It gave superb views flying parallel to the boat, 20 m off the
beam well illuminated by the sun. The unmarked, unsullied, brilliant white
undersurface of wings, except for the trailing edge, and body to just below
eye-level, and even bill shape, were clearly visible.
On the shelf break (90 to 105 fathoms, large
numbers of Storm-Petrels were feeding. Here we made the first of five berley
stops, ultimately spending almost 4 hours in the pelagic zone within a 10 km
circular area centred on 38º49’S 141º52.5’E over depths to 360 fathoms. Our
second berley station was after we had approached a trawler working the
260-fathom line. The highlight here was a BULLER’S SHEARWATER flying low among
the assembled sitting albatrosses, only the second record in these waters.
Moving on we had excellent sustained views of an adult NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS
and repeated sightings of WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS. The final highlight was a very
photogenic SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL. It hung around at the back of boat, at times
coming to within 6 m.
We cruised the western and northern shores
of LJPI from 14.25 to 14.50. Docked at 15.55.
1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and 2 or 3 well offshore. A pod of
about 20 Bottle-nosed Dolphins near PF as we came in.
species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity and some,
particularly Storm-Petrels, were abundant. Others, for instance Fluttering
Shearwaters and Jaegers, 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 (i.e. pelagic).
Penguin: 7 on
Petrel: 80 (40). Only 1 nominate race.
Fairy Prion: 130
(30). 80 offshore.
PETREL: 4 (2).
Shearwater: 3 (1), (1 offshore).
Sooty Shearwater: 3
Shearwater: 500 (70). 340 offshore, 150 inshore (mainly in
Shearwater: 1 inshore.
1 race elegans or similar (not assimilis),
Albatross: 3. 1 stage 2, 2 stage 4, exulans.
N. ROYAL ALBATROSS:
1 adult (photographed).
Albatross: 8 (3). 1 adult & 6 sub-adult melanophris, 1
1 sub-adult impavida.
cauta 120 (70), (15 offshore). 50 adults, 70
Albatross: 5 (2), (1 offshore). All juvs.
Storm-Petrel: 5 (2).
STORM-PETREL: 20 (8).
Storm-Petrel: 170 (50).
Gannet: c.100, (25 inshore, 75 offshore).
No colour-marked birds
from Port Phillip Bay detected but most were
distant so possibly
Cormorant: 5 on LJPI.
Kelp Gull: 16 on
LJPI, full adults & juveniles only.
Silver Gull: 80 on
LJPI & 1 inshore.
Crested Tern: 15
(7), (11 inshore, 2 offshore & 2