From: Peter Milburn <>
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 12:00:49 +1000

Report prepared by: P.J. Milburn.

Departed: 07:10 returned at approx. 17:00.
Sea conditions: calm at first then NE 1.0 to 1.5m.
Swell: ENE 2.0 to 3.0m offshore.
Weather: clear skies in the morning but patchy cloud in the afternoon.
Temperature range: 16.9 to 26.6°C.
Barometric pressure: 1003 HPa steady.
Wind: 8 to 10 knots NE by mid morning.
Sea surface temperature: 20.9 to 21.7°C.
Primary chumming location: 34° 28'S : 151° 23'E.


A high-pressure system was located over New
Zealand leaving a weak trough to develop over
eastern Australia.  Departing from port on
beautiful spring morning we found ourselves
immediately among Short-tailed and Fluttering
Shearwaters close inshore.  Several New Zealand
Fur-Seals and a SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL were also
busy hunting fish and small groups of Little
Penguins were foraging over the outer edge of
Wollongong Reef.  This was the first record of a
SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL on a Wollongong Pelagic

Birds were plentiful during our cruise eastwards
and included Black-browed and Campbell Albatross,
Cape Petrel and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.  We made
good headway in the gentle conditions and were
greeted at the edge of the continental shelf by
White-capped and Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross and
several Pomarine Jaegers.  As we continued into
deeper waters, we encountered Grey-faced and
Solander's Petrels and several Sooty Shearwaters.
In the water were Short-beaked Common Dolphins
and Short Sunfish and cruising over our wake were
several Gibson's and a second year SALVIN'S

Continuing eastward, more seabirds appeared;
first an Arctic Jaeger, then a GOULD'S PETREL
that typically showed little interest in our
vessel and passed us to the south and, finally, a
BLACK PETREL that obligingly plonked itself at
our transom while we were still under way.  As we
stopped to admire the BLACK PETREL, several
Gibson's and at least one ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS
crash-landed into the seabird mob at our stern.
Once more back under way, we sighted a large herd
of dolphins ahead of us and as we cruised towards
them we knew that something special was in store.
Eventually we were certain that we had
encountered a large group of STRIPED DOLPHINS, a
species that we have not observed from Wollongong
for many years and, to add a little further
interest to proceedings, there were also groups
of Short-beaked Common Dolphins in their midst.

We stayed with the dolphins for a long time and
eventually set up a drift-and-berley session in
600 fathoms of water but it felt as though the
major excitement of the day was behind us.
Somebody mentioned the time and we realized that
we had better head homewards.

For many years it seemed that the trip back to
harbour was an interminably dull sort of affair
but in the mid-naughties we have learned that
sometimes we experience some seriously good
fortune on the way back to port.  Today were in
for a very special experience; we stopped to
capture and band a WANDERING ALBATROSS and
somewhere during the proceedings somebody noticed
a flock of Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  Under way
once more, Cape Petrels appeared from all
directions and, while our skipper had already
recognized what was happening, the rest of us
eventually realized that we had stumbled upon a
floating whale carcass.  Species diversity was
not impressive but the spectacle was!  There was
the tragic whale carcass surrounded by SOUTHERN
GIANT-PETRELS, mobs of Cape Petrels and, over the
oil slick, hundreds of Wilson's Storm-Petrels.  A
small group of WANDERING ALBATROSS was competing
with the Giant-Petrels.  The shark-bite
cognoscenti aboard had a field day; clearly in
evidence were calling cards from White Pointers
and Tiger Sharks along with a myriad of other
denture imprints!  We invested the time to drift
down onto the carcass but the only sharks that we
saw were Bronze Whalers.  After a lot of effort,
everybody on board had good views of the NORTHERN
GIANT-PETRELS that were heavily outnumbered by
their southern counterparts and several observers
recorded an ANTARCTIC CAPE PETREL amidst the
hordes of New Zealand Cape Petrels.

Typically as we returned to inshore waters, we
added Australian Pelican and Kelp Gull to the
daily species tally.


This was a mind-boggling pelagic trip from almost
beginning to end!  We had clear views of a
sub-adult SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL over the inshore
reefs, the first recorded on a pelagic trip from
Wollongong.  Then it was the turn of seabirds to
steal the show with a flyby GOULD'S PETREL and an
in-your-face BLACK PETREL well beyond the edge of
the continental shelf.  Then the focus of
attention was back to marine mammals in the form
a large herd of STRIPED DOLPHINS, the first
recorded from Wollongong for over 10 years, with
Short-beaked Common Dolphins intermixed.

The climactic highlight of the day occurred on
our trip back to port when we experienced a
combined marine mammal seabird spectacle.  True,
the marine mammal was a carcass but the vivacity
of the associated seabird throng somehow
compensated for that morbid fact.  The real let
down of the day was the paucity of shark
sightings given the number of shark bites evident
on the carcass.

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)

005 Little Penguin Eudyptula minor 9 (3)
929 SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL Macronectes giganteus 12 (12)
937 NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL M. halli 2 (2)
080 ANTARCTIC CAPE PETREL Daption c. capense 1
080 New Zealand Cape Petrel Daption capense australe 325+ (300+ )
075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi 17 (15)
971 Solander's Petrel P. solandri 4 (2)
078 GOULD'S PETREL P. leucoptera 1
917 BLACK PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni 1
068 Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavia 30 (11)
913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni 4 (2)
069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P. pacificus 175+ (85+)
070 Sooty Shearwater P. griseus 3 (2)
071 Short-tailed Shearwater P. tenuirostris 180+ (100+)
072 Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes 3 (1)
086 WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans 6 (5)
846 ANTIPODEAN ALBATROSS D. antipodensis 1
847 Gibson's Albatross D. gibsoni 15 (12)
088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys 2 (2)
859 Campbell Albatross T. impavida 6 (3)
861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 3 (2)
862 SALVIN'S ALBATROSS T. salvini 1 second year
089 Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. carteri 2 (2)
063 Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 360+ (350+)
104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator 21 (7)
096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 1
128 Arctic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus 2 (1)
945 Pomarine Jaeger S. pomarinus 4 (3)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 9 (9)
125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 20 (20)
115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 15 (5)
953 Common Tern S. hirundo 6 (3)

In the harbour:

097 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 3 (3)
106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 5 (5)
981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 1 adult

22 species of procellariiformes in a total of 32
species of seabird identified outside the

Other birds



SUBANTARCTIC FUR-SEAL Arctocephalus tropicalis 1
New Zealand Fur-Seal Arctocephalus forsteri 3 (3)
STRIPED DOLPHIN Stenella coeruleoalba 250+ (250+)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis 70+ (50+)




Short Sunfish Mola ramsayi 2 (1)

For previous trip reports and selected images from this trip visit

Future Trips

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
month contact:

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)

Note:  SOSSA = Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association

Dr P.J. Milburn
Technical Specialist
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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