24th June, 2006 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:20 returned at approx. 15:30.
Sea conditions: choppy WSW at first rising to 1.5 to 2.0m SW by late morning.
Swell: SE 1.0 m inshore and 1.5 to 2.0 m offshore.
Weather: Bright sunshine all day.
Temperature range: 9.1 to 18.1°C.
Barometric pressure: 1014 HPa steady.
Wind: WSW 8 to 10 knots at first increasing to SW 15 to 20 knots later.
Sea surface temperature: 18.2 to 21.9°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 34' - E 151° 11'.
A slow-moving anticyclone was located over the
Great Australian Bight and a weak low-pressure
system was located in the southwestern Tasman
Sea. Overnight rain had cleared and a
southwesterly airflow continued throughout a fine
Black-browed Albatross were hunting for food just
offshore and an adult White-fronted Tern homed in
on us as we left the harbour. Large flocks of
Fluttering Shearwaters were searching for fish
over the inshore reefs and several small groups
of Hutton's Shearwaters were observed among them.
Australasian Gannets, Black-browed and Indic
Yellow-nosed Albatross were also patrolling the
area. Several Southern Humpback Whales were
moving slowly northwards a couple of miles
Fairy Prions became evident as we reached 35
fathoms and more White-fronted Terns followed us
for a while. Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross joined
us continuously as we cruised eastwards. I had
just emerged from the cabin after checking our
position at the 60-fathom line, when a juvenile
GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS flew up to our wake and
landed among the Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross.
After the obligatory hollering of 'stop the
boat!!' the bird swam right up to our stern
triggering a photographic frenzy. It must have
left the nest quite recently since it still had a
large tick engorging itself on the skin at the
base of its bill. A Campbell and a White-capped
Albatross joined us and so did a diomedea
albatross that had the appearance of female
exulans but was far too small to be that species.
Close inspection revealed that this bird was most
probably a TRISTAN ALBATROSS. Hundreds of Fairy
Prions were around us and a Brown Skua joined the
mob at the stern.
We resumed our trip eastwards toward the
continental slope and not long afterwards a
stunning adult BULLER'S ALBATROSS quartered our
stern but then departed. A small group of
Oceanic Bottle-nosed Dolphins rode the bow wave
for several minutes, much to the delight of some
of our international guests. A female ANTIPODEAN
ALBATROSS was next in the albatross procession
and a Solander's Petrel presented itself well
inside the edge of the continental shelf.
The sudden appearance of nominate Great-winged,
Cape and Solander's Petrels announced our arrival
at the 100-fathom line. A second year SHY
ALBATROSS appeared as we began a drift-and-berley
session. The number of Fairy Prions was
relatively low in the deeper water, which was a
bit disappointing but a single Wilson's
Storm-Petrel appeared over the berley trail. A
female Gibson's and a juvenile WANDERING
ALBATROSS joined the albatross flock, which
included seven species at this point.
Our trip back to port was fairly uneventful in
bird terms but we did encounter 3 different
groups of Southern Humpback Whales.
It seems that Fairy Prion has well and truly made
a comeback to Wollongong waters after a 3 year
hiatus but Campbell Albatross were in unusually
Another fantastic trip for albatross encounters
with excellent views of 11 species of albatross
including the first records of GREY-HEADED and
TRISTAN ALBATROSS for 2006. Species diversity
was relatively high with a total of 19 species of
Birds recorded according to the latest
Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:
Species code: Species name: Numbers:
(Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
080 Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 2 (2)
075 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma m. macroptera 2 (1)
971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 9 (6)
083 Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur 200+ (100+)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 200+ (150+)
913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 5 (4)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 1
086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 3 (3)
845 TRISTAN ALBATROSS D. dabeneena 1
846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 2 (2)
847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 5 (4)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 46 (25)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 7 (3)
931 BULLER'S ALBATROSS T. bulleri 1
861 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 1
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (2)
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 33 (15)
090 GREY-HEADED ALBATROSS T. chrysostoma 1
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 1
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 8 (8)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 5 (3)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 4 (4)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 145+ (75+)
114 White-fronted Tern Sterna striata 6 (2)
115 Crested Tern S. bergii 10 (6)
In the harbour:
100 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3 (3)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 2 (2)
26 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae 15 (6)
Oceanic Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus 5 (5)
For previous trip reports and selected images from this trip visit
All Pelagic Trips from NSW are operated at no
profit to the organizers, 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 detailed below:
To make a booking on the SOSSA Wollongong Pelagic
Trips that departs on the 4th Saturday of each
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 Pelagic Trip that
departs from Rose Bay public jetty on the 2nd
Saturday of each month contact
Tony Palliser Ph; 02-99001678 (w), 02-94115272 (h)
To make a booking for Eden Pelagic Trips, which
are run on the 5th Sunday of each month as it
Barbara Jones or Ph (02) 6495 7390
Note: SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association
Dr P.J. Milburn
ANU Biomolecular Resource Facility
John Curtin School of Medical Research
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
Canberra ACT 0200
'Phone +61 2 6125 4326
FAX +61 2 6125 9533
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