Southport Pelagic 15th September 07

To: <>
Subject: Southport Pelagic 15th September 07
From: "Paul Walbridge" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2007 09:54:05 +1000
Hi Folks, another try at this.   

Weather Conditions: A High over southern Australia combined with a weak
ridge along the Queensland coastline produced mainly moderate NW-N winds
over southeast Queensland. Generally clear skies, with good visibility.
Air 28C, barometric pressure 1016 hPa. 

Sea conditions: Fairly light seas on a moderate swell on leaving the
seaway, with conditions deteriorating as the morning wore on. At the
widest drift winds had swung to due north at 25 knots and this combined
with a southerly swell and north to south current really bumped up the
waves leading to uncomfortable & at times wet conditions. Sea surface
temps. 20.4 C at the Seaway, 21.8 C at the Shelf-break with a warmer
current of 22.8 at the widest drift. 

Vessel: M.V. Grinner

Skipper: Craig Newton
Deckie: Gail 
Leader: Paul Walbridge
Patrons: Dave Stewart, Brian Russell, Chris Barnes, Rod Gardner, Denis
Gosper, Xenia Dennit, Steve Murray, Steve Mcbride, John Norling, Eric
Tull & Brooke, Willem Renema, Antti Kause. 

This was to be a day that three of Southport's specialty birds really
turned up to be counted! 

 Left the Seaway at 0630 hrs and arrived back at 1600 hrs - duration of
trip 9 hrs 30 mins.The initial approach was to head for a local seamount
known as Jim's Mountain some 26 nms ENE of the Seaway but by the time
we reached the shelf-break it was decided to take a more comfortable
option of heading to a spot a few nms south west of there but still in
'slope' waters.  

Just after leaving the seaway, Craig the skipper tied a rope around a
fairly large tuna and after a few knife slashes tossed it over the stern
and we towed it out over the Shelf. The theory is bits and pieces
gradually break of in the wake and a slick forms - it really works and
before long we had up to 14 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters following the
vessel without having to chum. Cool, seabird photographers will know
that the best shots of seabirds in flight are achieved when the vessel
is in motion and the birds are following close behind. For many onboard
it was either their first pelagic or first Oz pelagic so it was a
welcome photo opportunity, 

A lone Hutton's Shearwater was the only thing of note crossing the
'abyssmal plain' and just after crossing the Shelf-break someone
shouted albatross, so we stopped as a Wandering type, too distant to
specify which, passed astern of the vessel. We chucked a bit of sharks
liver over but it kept going its merry way southward, however soon
after, the first Tahiti Petrel of the spring honed in on the slick
followed quickly by several Wedge-tailed Shearwaters. 

 We decided to move on for another couple kilometres south,to another
known ridge before stopping for a drift. It wasn't long before the
first Kermadec Petrel (an all dark morph) showed up, followed quickly by
Wilson's & Black-bellied Storm Petrels plus Providence and Tahiti
Petrels. Over the next hour or so waves of birds, of various species
passed through, moving down the slick, when suddenly the bird of the day
appeared alongside the vessel, a very early Black Petrel, which appeared
on and off over the next half an hour or so. By now, even more Kermadec
Petrels of various morphs plus increasing numbers of Black-bellied Storm
Petrels & Tahiti Petrels were turning up. Also small numbers of
Wilson's Storm Petrels, Providence Petrels, Sooty Terns & Common
Noddies. This would have to be the first trip I've ever been on where
Kermadec Petrels outnumbered Providence by two to one! 

At 1245 hrs it was time to call it a day as the conditions meant it
would be a fairly slow trip back. Little to report on the way back save
for a lone Little Tern and one or two very shy Humpback Whales and some
more Australasian Gannets. All in all a very satisfying day with
everyone pretty pleased with the outcome despite the rigorous conditions
(only 2 people sick though). 

SPECIES:  Tahiti Petrel - 25 (6)
                  Providence Petrel - 4 (2)
                  Kermadec Petrel - 8 (2)
                  Black Petrel - 1
                  Wedge-tailed Shearwater - 125 (30)
                  Flesh-footed Shearwater -2
                  Hutton's Shearwater - 1
                  Wandering Albatross -1
                  Wilson's Storm Petrel - 4 (2)
                  Black-bellied Storm Petrel - 31 (5)
                  Australasian Gannet - 6
                  Silver Gull - 1
                  Crested Tern - 2
                  Little Tern - 1
                  Sooty Tern - 9 (5)
                  Common Noddy - 2 
  Cetaceans :  Humpback Whale - 4
                       Pantropical Spotted Dolphins - 20-30 

    Next trip is October 13th, hope you can join us.  Cheers - Paul W.

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