Port Fairy Pelagic on 6 April 2003

Subject: Port Fairy Pelagic on 6 April 2003
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 23:59:51 -0000


OBSERVERS: Chris Lester (organiser), David Burren, Neville Bartlett, Bob & Sadhana Cook, Rosemary Lester, Richard Loyn, Peter Menkhorst, Grant Penrhyn, Frank Pierce, Jennifer Spry, David Stickney & Mike Carter (leader).

WEATHER: An anticyclone was centred over Bass Strait. Thin cloud cover at times but a mostly clear sky. Therefore bright with excellent visibility. Cool to mild. NE wind to 5 knots inshore at first rising to 15 knots well offshore and veering to E. 10-12 knots inshore as we came in.

SEA: Slight on a low SW swell inshore at first, rising to choppy on a low to   moderate swell offshore. A little choppy on a low swell inshore as we came in.

So a comfortable ride with little spray going out enabling some to ride on the bow. A bit wobbly on the shelf and some spray protection required coming in. No-one sick.

ACTIVITY: Sailed at 07.00 EST (sunrise c. 06.50). Headed out on a COG of 204º at 13.4 Kts. Inshore, the sea was almost barren. Only singles of 4 bird species were seen in the first hour. This surprised our crew because earlier in the week there had been ‘acres of Fluttering Shearwaters’. Then at 08.00 at 38º33’S 142º09’E in 28 fathoms we encountered two Pygmy BLUE WHALES. We enjoyed these for half an hour before heading on out. Further offshore the bird-life increased with Fairy Prions becoming particularly abundant with smaller numbers of shearwaters, Gannets and White-faced Storm-Petrels. We crossed the shelf break (100 fathoms = 180m) at 10.00 and continued into deeper water.  Between 10.10 and 13.15 we stopped and berleyed with shark liver at four locations within 5 km of 38º49.2’S 141º52.2’E. Initially, bird numbers here were also low.

 Coming in, we again passed through large congregations of Prions and Storm-Petrels in offshore waters. We cruised off the western and northern shores of Lady Julia Percy Island (LJPI) from 15.15 to 15.45. Docked at 16.40.

MAMMALS: One of two PYGMY BLUE WHALES together put on a wonderful display. 1,000’s of Australian Fur Seals were at LJPI and perhaps 5 at sea.

BIRDS: 23 species of seabird beyond the river mouth indicated good diversity and while most were in very low numbers, two species, Fairy Prion and White-faced Storm-Petrel were abundant. An exceptionally high number of BULLER’S ALBATROSSES. The JAEGER’s were heading east apparently on passage. Highlights are in capitals. Unless noted otherwise, those listed below were near or beyond the shelf break (i.e. pelagic).

Little Penguin:  4. 1 offshore, 3 on LJPI.

Great-winged Petrel: Only 4 (1). 3 nominate race, 1 gouldi.

FAIRY PRION: c. 2,000, mostly offshore, but 10 pelagic & 10 inshore.

Flesh-footed Shearwater: 1 briefly seen offshore as we came in.

Sooty Shearwater: 1.

Short-tailed Shearwater: 100 (40). 5 pelagic, 80 offshore, 15 inshore.

Fluttering Shearwater: 15 (6) inshore.

Wandering Albatross: 1 stage 4, [exulans] remained aloof.

Black-browed Albatross: nom. race, 16 (4). 8 off, 3 in. 12 ads, 3 sub-ads, 1 juv.

                                            impavida, 25 (20). 22 adults, 3 sub-ads.

Shy Albatross cauta: 40 (15). 10 offshore, 5 inshore. 25 ads, 10 sub-ads, 5 juvs.

Yellow-nosed Albatross: 12 (4). 6 offshore, 4 inshore. 10 adults, 2 sub-adults.

BULLER’S ALBATROSS (S): 11 (4). Excellent views at close range.


Wilson’s Storm-Petrel: 2 (1).

GREY-BACKED STORM-PETREL: 1 passed briefly.

WHITE-FACED STORM-PETREL: 130 (50). 6 pelagic, 100 offshore, 24 inshore.

Australasian Gannet: c.120. 8 inshore, 100 offshore, 12 pelagic incl. 2 juv.

Black-faced Cormorant: 2 ads. on LJPI.

Arctic Jaeger: 3 (1). 2 offshore, 1 inshore. 

LONG-TAILED JAEGER: 2 (1). 1 offshore.

Kelp Gull: 20 on LJPI.

Silver Gull: 50 on LJPI.

Crested Tern: 16 (4). 4 inshore, 7 offshore & 5 pelagic.

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