PORT FAIRY (PF), VIC, PELAGIC
TRIP REPORT, 2 FEBRUARY 2003
The good times roll on but unfortunately, so do big
Lester (organiser), George Appleby, Rob Berry, Gail D’Alton, Gina Hopkins,
Rosemary Lester, Peter Menkhorst, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, David Stickney,
Geoff Walker, David Webb & Mike Carter (leader).
anticyclone was ridging to western Bass Strait. Thin, but continuous cloud cover
till 13.00, and then clear. Bright, with excellent visibility. Cool to mild. S
wind at 10 knots in a.m. turning E and rising in p.m. especially inshore where
20 to 25 knots by 15.00, (exceeding the forecasted wind speed of up to 15
SEA: Choppy (to 1 m waves), on a low (1.5 m) SW
swell in a.m. rising in p.m. to rough (1.5 to 2.0 m foaming waves) on a 2 m
swell. So a bumpy ride out, some instability while stationary as we berleyed
beyond the shelf and increasingly uncomfortable as we came in to Lady Julia
Percy Island (LJPI). Then we took a real beating (I’ve got the bruises to
prove it) on the last leg to Port Fairy with a complete curtain of spray
around the boat. Two sick but both saw the birds that excited
ACTIVITY: Sailed at
07.05. Headed out on a COG of 202º at 13.0 Kts. Close inshore there were
hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters, a few Gannets and Crested Terns and the
odd Fluttering Shearwater, then little until 31 km out at 45 fathoms. Here we
encountered the first feeding birds. Yellow-nosed Albatrosses tearing at a
squid, then Gannets and shearwaters of two species accompanying hundreds of
Common Dolphins and a few seals. As we approached the edge of the continental
shelf White-faced Storm-Petrels became common.
We crossed the shelf break at 09.45 and
remained in pelagic waters until 13.00. Here we made four berley stops within a
10 km circular area centred on 38º48.5’S 141º52.5’E over depths to 280 fathoms.
This attracted birds to assemble around the boat. Coming in, we cruised off the
western and northern shores of LJPI from 14.45 to 15.15 where we pursued one of
two soaring NORTHERN GIANT PETRELS, normally seen only in winter and spring.
Docked at 16.15.
1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals at LJPI and perhaps 10 well offshore, some
with one of two pods of Common Dolphins totalling between 200 and 1,000.
species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated exceptional diversity and
some, particularly Short-tailed Shearwaters, were abundant. Shy Albatross
numbers were down presumably because no trawlers were active in our area. Again
several rare species were seen. All gave good views. These are highlighted in
capitals. One ‘that got away’ was a probable Little Shearwater in the pelagic
zone. It was too distant and seen by only four observers. Unless noted
otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e.
Penguin: 4 on
Diving-Petrel: 2. 1 inshore.
N. GIANT PETREL: 1
+  off LJPI.
Petrel: 100 (60). 10 nominate race, 90 gouldi.
PETREL: 5 (2).
PETREL: 5 (3)
Fairy Prion: 8 (1).
PETREL: 6 (3).
Shearwater: 60 (20), 10 offshore, 10 inshore.
Sooty Shearwater: 3
Shearwater: c. 2,070 (200). 10 pelagic, 60 offshore, 2,000 inshore.
Shearwater: 5 (1). I offshore, 4 inshore.
Albatross: 3. 1 stage 3, 2 juvs. = stage 1,
Albatross: 15 (7). All nom. race. 2 offshore. 3 ads, 12
cauta: 20 (8). 3 offshore. 8 adults, 12 sub-adults.
Albatross: 16 (8), 6 offshore. 8 adults, 8 sub-adults.
STORM-PETREL: 5 (2).
Storm-Petrel: 70 (25). 18 offshore, 2 inshore.
Gannet: c.100. 30 inshore, 70 offshore (none pelagic).
Cormorant: 4 on LJPI.
Great Cormorant: 2
inshore off PF.
Kelp Gull: 10 on
LJPI, full adults & juveniles only.
Silver Gull: 30 on
LJPI & 1 inshore.
Crested Tern: 50
(10). 10 on LJPI, 30 inshore, 5 offshore & 5