Eaglehawk Pelagic - 24th of May, 2015
Pieter de Groot Boersma, Ruth Brozek, Rob Hamilton, Col Langham, Marilyn
Langham, Mona Loofs-Samorzewski, Glen Pacey, Nicole Sommer, John Tongue,
Shirley Tongue, Peter Tongue, Kimberley Tongue and Paul Brooks (organiser
and report compiler)
The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Michael Males.
Conditions and Activity:
The trip was fairly quiet early in terms of diversity and numbers but
gradually picked up until we had a string of highlights late in the day.
Interestingly, most of the action occurred in the lightest winds. We left
port at 0735 hrs under partly cloudy skies and headed straight down to the
Hippolytes in very mild conditions. As we approached the Hippolytes, the
swell picked up to around 1.5 m but seas remained negligible in the 5 knot
winds. After circumnavigating the Hippolytes, we forged a path east to the
shelf break; conditions became slightly choppier and, when we reached the
break, the swell mounted to around 2 metres with the occasional peak
approaching 4 metres. The swell was quite gentle, however, and seas
remained low in the 5-10 knot southerly. We pulled up over 535 fathoms at
0935 hrs and began to berley with mackerel and tuna frames and tuna oil.
We drifted very slowly to the north until 1120 hrs, before motoring south
and stopping over 270 fathoms to lay more berley. The swell remained the
same here but the wind dropped even further to below 5 knots, although it
was noticeably fresher and had shifted around south-westerly. After
another slow, northward drift of around 30 minutes, we headed back to port,
making good time over a sea which had become almost glassy as the wind
dropped out. Water temperature hovered between 13.5-13.8 deg C from
inshore waters to out wide but, during our first drift, the temperature
jumped to 14.7 deg C as a band of warmer water moved through. The water
was even warmer during our more southerly drift, reaching 15 deg C. Air
temperature was around 10 deg C and viewing conditions were excellent with
sunny conditions for most of the day. One seasick.
Australian/New Zealand Fur Seal: 17 on the Hippolyte.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin: an enormous pod encountered south-east of the
Hippolytes as we headed for home, probably numbering over 1000 individuals.
Shortfin Mako Shark: 2 attracted to berley in deep water.
Birds (IOC v 5.1 – max at one time in brackets):
Antipodean Albatross: 2 (1) Both pelagic; one older adult female Gibson’s
which stayed around the boat for much of the day; 1 bird in approximately
Onley & Scofield plumage stage B observed briefly while motoring between
Southern Royal Albatross: 2 (1) 1 juvenile and 1 adult, both in pelagic
waters. Neither bird hung around for long.
Black-browed type Albatross: 2 (1) Both in offshore waters in the morning,
neither approaching closely.
Campbell Albatross: 2 (2) adults at our second berley point.
Shy Albatross: c. 50 (19) 4 inshore in the morning; 8 offshore in the
morning; remainder pelagic. Mainly adult with at least 8 immatures and 3
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 4 (2) 3 adults inshore in the morning; 1
immature in pelagic waters.
Buller’s Albatross: c. 65 (c. 14) 5 inshore in the morning; 34 offshore in
the morning; remainder pelagic. All adult.
Giant Petrel Sp. 4 (1) All seen distantly when nearing, and just beyond,
the shelf break. May have been birds that approached the boat closer later
Northern Giant Petrel: 7 (4) All in pelagic waters. One adult, remainder
Cape Petrel: 9 (7) 1 *australe* in offshore waters; 7 *capense* and 1
*australe* in pelagic waters.
Fairy Prion: 5 (1) All pelagic.
Great-winged Petrel: 9 (3) 7 pelagic; 2 offshore in the afternoon. All
birds seen adequately were *gouldi*.
WHITE-HEADED PETREL: 1 bird passed the boat several times at our second
berley point. Another bird which was seen distantly just before this bird
arrived may have been the same bird.
SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL: 2 (1) Single flybys from 2 birds after we began to
motor for port; the first outside the shelf break and the second a little
*Procellaria* petrel: 1 a single bird observed just after crossing the
shelf break didn’t approach closely enough to identify.
WESTLAND PETREL: 1 Approached the boat closely and stayed with us for
around 15 minutes at our second berley point. Photographed well – BARC
submission in preparation.
Short-tailed Shearwater: 6 (2) 4 birds offshore in the morning; 2 birds in
Wilson’s Storm Petrel: 2 (1) Pelagic.
Grey-backed Storm Petrel: 3 (1) Pelagic.
Common Diving Petrel: c.315 (5) Around a dozen birds offshore in the
morning; 2 pelagic; remainder offshore in the afternoon, often giving
excellent views as they skipped away over the glassy water.
Black-faced Cormorant: 28 (c. 12) Inshore and around the Hippolyte.
Australasian Gannet: 18 (c. 6) Inshore and around the Hippolyte.
White-faced Heron: 2 (1) On the Hippolyte.
Silver Gull: c. 85 (c.50) Inshore and around the Hippolyte in the morning.
Pacific Gull: 2 (1) Adults inshore in the morning.
Kelp Gull: c.42 (c. 20) Inshore and around the Hippolyte in the morning –
adults and juveniles.
Greater Crested Tern: 6 (3) 3 pelagic; 3 offshore in the afternoon.
White-fronted Tern: 2 (1) 1 immature and 1 adult at our first berley stop.
Both foraged briefly at the back of the boat.
Peregrine Falcon: 1 over the water east of the Hippolyte; possibly hunting
the numerous Diving Petrels.
Forest Raven: 1 at the heads of Pirates Bay in the morning.
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