Stephens Pelagic Trip Report – Sun 24th March 2013
M.V.Argonaut, skippered by Ray Horsefield
Anderson, Allan Richardson, Dan Williams, Mike Newman, Steve Edwards, David
Mitford, Darryl Eggins, Norm and June Harris, Narelle Smith, Michael Kearns,
Jenkin, Steve Roderick and Mick Roderick (organiser).
calmer than the day before, the combined sea and swell today was negligible,
owing to the almost complete lack of wind. At one point we were motoring across
a glassy sea that looked like a millpond at dawn.
avian highlight was a Buller’s Shearwater seen inshore in the late afternoon,
but the overall highlights went to the Cetaceans, with Pygmy Killer Whales and
a pod of very likely Sei Whales that we encountered only a few miles from the
heads on the way back in. Despite some zig-zagging to get views they remained
somewhat elusive, though some on board got reasonably good views.
Nelson Bay Public Wharf at 0700 returning at 1705.
forecast was for even calmer seas than yesterday and those of us doing the
double-header kept reminding ourselves “it’s a different day at sea” as we
motored out into the flat ocean again. A couple of trawlers a few miles out had
attending flocks of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters but on this occasion we couldn’t
entice any to join us for the journey to the shelf. In fact, apart from an
occasional Fleshy-footed Shearwater flying alongside, there wasn’t a single
bird join us for the outward leg.
at the shelf break (32 48.990 / 152 39.396) we cut the engines to an empty and
silent sea. Eventually a few brown birds came in and we soon had some attendant
Wedge-tailed and Fleshy-footed Shearwaters. Then one of the most worn Wilson’s
Storm-petrels I’ve ever seen arrived in the slick – its flight feathers
seemingly reduced to almost shafts only. A few more joined in, along with the
occasional Fluttering and Hutton’s Shearwater. A pod of Pygmy Killer Whales
came quite close to the boat, allowing us to get images of the white lips.
was an identical situation to yesterday from this point on (except we didn't
have a godwit fly-by!) and for the 2nd day running and a total of
nearly 5 hours at the shelf we did not see a petrel of any sort. So again, we
decided our chances of finding something different might lie inshore. Literally
as the engine started up our first Pomarine Jaeger arrived.
was to be a good decision as we added Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwaters along
with the best bird of the day in a very worn Buller’s Shearwater. The bird was
as brown above as a Wedge-tailed and the thought did cross my mind before
calling it as a Buller’s that it could’ve been a pale Wedgie. This was our 7th
Shearwater for the day and brought some respectability to the day’s tally.
in we came across some whales throwing out very large blows. Dave Mitford urged
us to turn around and investigate further and this was another good decision as
it became evident that we were looking at a rare species. These animals were
huge and the likely ID was soon narrowed down to the Fin / Sei / Brydes group
of rorquals. Based on the blow, dorsal fin and the fact that they dived without
arching their backs and showing tail flukes it was later decided that the most
likely candidate was that they were Sei Whales (though we cannot discount the
possibility that more than one species was involved). The weekend ended in great
style after going very slowly for so long.
Total (maximum number visible from the boat at one time)
Storm-petrel: 14 (11)
Shearwater: 5 (2)
Shearwater: 3 (1)
Shearwater: 600 (500)
Shearwater: 40 (15)
Shearwater: 3 (1)
Shearwater: 2 (1)
Gannet: 8 (2)
Tern: 7 (4)
Jaeger: 5 (3)
Gull: 4 (4)
Bottlenose Dolphin: 10
Common Dolphin: 6
Killer Whale: c.10
Whale: ? 4+
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