26th November, 2006 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.
Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.
Departed: 07:10 returned at approx. 16:00.
Sea conditions: 1.0 to 2.0m SSE to SE.
Weather: patchy cloud in the morning but overcast later.
Temperature range: 17.3 to 23.6°C.
Barometric pressure: 1012 HPa.
Wind: SSE to 15 knots at first veering to SE in the afternoon.
Sea surface temperature: 19.3 to 20.3°C.
Primary chumming location: S 34° 42' - E 151° 11'.
A weak low-pressure trough extending
northeastwards along the New South Wales coast
was sandwiched between a high-pressure system in
the Tasman Sea and another over southwestern West
Australia. A weak front had passed through the
area overnight bringing a southerly air stream in
its wake that gradually became more easterly
during the day. In the absence of any strong
currents the sea conditions were never worse than
mildly uncomfortable and, under the patchy cloud,
the moderating breeze produced a rather
Though birds were few just outside the harbour,
thousands of Fluttering, Wedge-tailed,
Short-tailed and Hutton's Shearwaters (in order
of decreasing abundance) were foraging over
Wollongong Reef. Heading into the wind chop on a
southeasterly course, we seemed to cruise through
these flocks interminably. Several Pomarine
Jaegers and a solitary Flesh-footed Shearwater
joined the following seabird throng after a
while. At the thirty-fathom line we crossed a
water front into bluer and warmer water and soon
both a first year Black-browed and an adult
female WANDERING ALBATROSS fell in with the
following crowd. A female Gibson's Albatross
also tagged along and we passed several
impressive Short-tailed Sunfish.
As we reached deeper water Common Terns appeared
in small numbers and a fourth year Campbell
Albatross latched onto us and followed us for the
remainder of the day. In contrast an adult SHY
and an adult Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross
appeared briefly but both disappeared soon after
to the south.
The wind strength had decreased somewhat and the
direction had shifted more toward the east as we
cruised beyond the edge of the continental shelf.
Several Great-winged Petrels and SHY ALBATROSS
appeared once we were at the 100-fathom line but
as we turned to the east and continued into
deeper water we found only a Sooty Shearwater to
add to our daily tally.
It turned out to be one of those days when
heading back to port was the best tactical
decision. A Wilson's Storm-Petrel provided an
early bright spot and the subsequent brief lull
in proceedings was shattered by the sighting of
100+ PYGMY KILLER WHALES on the starboard beam.
Just as soon as the sandwiches were back out of
the lunch bags they were dropped again as a
pelagic tern cruised in from the southeast and,
to our great surprise, this was a BRIDLED TERN.
The bird responded to the excited finger pointing
and reaching for cameras by leaving as
imperiously as it had appeared. A first year
White-capped Albatross followed us at a distance
for a while, keeping us guessing as to its
identity. When once more in inshore waters a
large number of gulls and a flock of jaegers
joined us, the latter were great fun to watch.
An unfortunate Short-tailed Shearwater had fallen
victim to plastic pollution and was entangled in
the remains of a party balloon.
The second record of BRIDLED TERN for the
Wollongong Pelagic Trip was a great thrill. The
previous record was also in November. Seven
species of albatross was probably an all time
high for a November trip. In many ways the
prolonged encounter with the large group of PYGMY
KILLER-WHALES was the most memorable experience
of the trip.
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)
073 Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 6 (3)
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 3500+ (1000+)
913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 9 (4)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 550+ (300+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 1
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 350+ (150+)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 3 (1)
086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 2 (1)
847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 6 (3)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 3 (3)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 2 (1)
091 SHY ALBATROSS T. cauta 3 (3)
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 1
864 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 1
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 2 (1)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 5 (2)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 3 (3)
128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 6 (3)
945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 26 (16)
980 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 4 (4)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 3600+ (3500+)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 16 (3)
953 Common Tern S. hirundo 4 (2)
121 BRIDLED TERN S. anaethetus 1
In the harbour:
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2 (2)
097 Little Black Cormorant P. sulcirostris 1
100 Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos 1
101 Australian Darter Anhinga melanogaster 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 16 (10)
25 species of seabird identified outside the breakwater.
Pygmy Killer Whale Feresa attenuata 100+ (100+)
Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 4 (1)
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 ACRF 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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