Eaglehawk neck, Tasmania - Pelagic Trip Report - 14/03/2012
Participants: Paul Brooks (trip organiser and report compiler), Els
Wakefield, Stewart Mitchell, James Melville & JJ Harrison. Aboard the
Big Pig with skipper Stuart Nichols.
Activity: Left Pirates Bay at 0715 hrs in fairly overcast and dim
conditions. Headed south-east to circumnavigate the Hippolytes and
then came back inshore a bit to investigate a large gathering of
seabirds before heading out to the shelf. Started our first berley
run at 0900 hrs in 84 fathoms at 148193, -431807. Drifted for about
1.5 hrs before heading east to set another slick over 492 fathoms at
148.239, -43.1464. Drifted for 45 mins before heading back to the
shelf for more berleying at 148.222, -43.1604 over 84 fathoms. Headed
back in to the Hippolytes at 1250 hrs for some more berley just inside
Hippolyte rock at 1315 hrs. Arrived back at Pirate’s Bay at 1500 hrs.
Conditions: Fairly benign conditions for most of the day with a swell
to 2 metres (long sets) and little chop. Mostly cloudy with brief
periods of sunshine and a predominantly east to south-easterly wind to
15 knots which eased during the early afternoon. One seasick.
Australian Fur Seal: c. 200. Many groups loafing around inshore and
on the Hippolytes and a few offshore. 1 pelagic.
Common Dolphin: a pod of 200+ offshore. Several rode in our bow wave
for a while.
Birds: The action began not long after we left Pirate’s Bay, with the
first of many Short-tailed Shearwaters buzzing around and a lone
Fluttering Shearwater hopping between patches of floating kelp. We
investigated a large congregation of birds just inside Hippolyte rock
which provided decent views of another Fluttering Shearwater and our
first Yellow-nosed Albatross. Short-tailed Shearwaters became
ubiquitous on our way out to the shelf: from the time we passed the
Hippolyte until our return, there was always at least one in sight and
often many more. Shy and Buller’s Albatrosses were also in view for
much of the day, although we didn’t encounter any Diomedea albatrosses
at all. Our skipper informed us that he hadn’t seen any for the
previous two weeks either. At our first berley stop, there were at
least 200 Short-tailed Shearwaters on the water behind the boat and
more flying around. Our first berley stop also produced our highlight
of the day, a brief fly-by of a Buller’s Shearwater plus our first of
2 juvenile Black-browed Albatrosses. Bird activity was quieter
further off the shelf and remained so when we came back in to the
shelf break, probably due to the easing of the already light winds
(although many Short-taileds came back into our slick to feed, which
they hadn’t done out wider). Inside Hippolyte rock, we had excellent
views of another Fluttering Shearwater diving for scraps at the back
of the boat.
Pacific Black Duck: 1 (1) On the beach in Pirate’s Bay.
Little Penguin: 1 (1) Inshore on the way back.
Giant-petrel sp.: 1 (1) Seen by one observer near the Hippolytes in the morning.
White-chinned Petrel: 12 (5) All pelagic. One with a dusky bill tip.
Fairy Prion: 5 (3) All pelagic.
BULLER’S SHEARWATER: 1 (1) A brief fly-by on the first berley run.
Sooty Shearwater: 2 (1) One inshore in the morning, 1 pelagic.
Short-tailed Shearwater: Hundreds, probably thousands (200+).
Fluttering Shearwater: 4 (1) 3 inshore, 1 pelagic.
Common Diving-petrel: 12 (2) 5 offshore on the way out, 1 pelagic and
the remainder inshore on the way back.
Shy Albatross: 77 (17) Common all day, inshore to pelagic. Mainly
adults but 3 or 4 juveniles.
Black-browed Albatross: 2 (1) Both juveniles, one each at berley stops 1 and 3.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: 2 (1) Both near Hippolyte rock, 1 in the
morning, 1 in the afternoon. Adults.
Buller’s Albatross: 47 (11) Common all day, from inside to out wide.
Wilson’s Storm-petrel: 4 (4) At the first berley stop.
White-faced Storm-petrel: 1 (1) One seen briefly at berley stop 1.
Grey-backed Storm-petrel: 2 (1) Berley stops 1 and 3.
Australasian Gannet: 32 (12) Inshore and Hippolytes.
Black-faced Cormorant: c. 600 (c. 350) Many in inshore waters and
large numbers roosting on the Hippolytes.
White-faced Heron: 2 (1) On top of Hippolyte Rock.
Pacific Gull: 1 (1) Inshore near the Hippolytes.
Kelp Gull: c. 220 (100) Inshore, many on the Hippolytes and 1 offshore.
Silver Gull: c. 500 (100) Mainly inshore and around the Hippolytes, 2 pelagic.
Crested Tern: 16 (2) Inshore, offshore and pelagic.
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