Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Albany Pelagic Trip Report - 29 July 2012

Participants: Alan Collins (Organiser), John Graff (Organiser), Ron Broomham, Mark Carter, Rose Ferrell, Stewart Ford, Nigel Jackett, Darryl Jones, Dan Mantle, Glen Murray, Graham Palmer, Leif Reidell, Peter Taylor, Roy Teale, Nathan Waugh

Conditions: Conditions for the trip were a little rougher than the Saturday trip, with NE'ly winds around 10knts in the morning, increasing to around 15knts for the return journey. Seas were forecast to be 1.5m, and the swell was forecast to be 2m, increasing to 2.5m through the day. Overhead conditions were fine and sunny for the majority of the trip, though there was cloud and rain away to the SE

Overall this was a disappointing trip for Albany, especially for regular participants. Only 9 pelagic species were recorded, with no unusual sightings, and it proved difficult to bring any birds in behind the boat. The highlight was another sighting of Orcas (Killer Whales), following on from the sighting on the Saturday trip, though the views were not as good on this occasion.

Great-winged Petrel. Photo courtesy Dan Mantle.

We departed Emu Point a little after 7am in clear conditions, which held throughout the day. Things were quiet as we crossed King George Sound, with the exception of a couple of Humpback Whales. Not long after passing through the heads, the first Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross was seen, but the albatross activity was much lower than usual just outside the heads. We headed deeper, making a more easterly track than the Saturday trip. A couple of Brown Skuas were seen, along with a few Hutton's and Little Shearwaters, but seabird activity was fairly low. A few people also saw a Shy Albatross. The first Great-winged Petrel was not seen until well offshore, and not long afterwards we came to a stop in about 350m of water.

As we stopped, the call of whale drew attention to a couple of blows to the port side which some observers considered to be Sperm Whales. Not long afterwards, the call went up for Orcas, and we were treated to another sighting of these impressive animals (after the sighting on the Saturday trip). These were also considered to be 'Type A' individuals, and may have been the same animals seen the previous day. They did not approach as closely this time, but most people had reasonable views. Unfortunately the bird activity was quiet, and we struggled to bring in birds to the back of the boat. Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great-winged Petrel, and a few overwintering Flesh-footed Shearwaters were the only species to stay around the boat, though a few Shy Albatross also made passes.

Young Shy Albatross in flight. Photo courtesy Dan Mantle.

With the wind behind us, we drifted quite rapidly, so after an hour or so, we decided to reposition at the start of the slick. This made little difference initially but we were eventually rewarded with some passes by a Soft-plumaged Petrel and the arrival of a Cape Petrel and a couple of Shy Albatross. However, overall activity near the boat remained low and so we decided to reposition again and headed west.

A Soft-plumaged Petrel made couple of passes. Photo courtesy Dan Mantle. 

Cape Petrel, the only one seen on the day.

We stopped again in about 500m of water and set out the chum, but could not attract anything different except for a distant giant-petrel which did not come in. A couple of Little Shearwater were seen passing but did not come close to the boat. With nothing new coming in, we decided to start heading back early to give ourselves extra time to stop if we saw anything on the way in. Within minutes of starting to head back, we stopped for a Northern Giant-Petrel, which passed behind the stern and disappeared to the south. After this brief stop we continued our return journey, but saw nothing new. The NE'ly wind and increasing waves also made it a little wet for many, especially for the first half of the return journey. We docked again a little after 1600.

Young Shy Albatross, with Torndirrup Peninsula in the far background.

Thanks as always to all the participants, and to the skipper Tony and deckhand Fred (Spinners Charters), who were friendly and helpful as always.

Species List [Total Count (Maximum no. seen at one time)]
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 40+ (14)
Shy Albatross 8 (3)
Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 40+ (13)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 5 (2)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 10 (6)
Hutton's Shearwater 8 (3)
Little Shearwater 10 (2)
Brown Skua 3 (1)
Australasian Gannet 25 (12)

Humpback Whale 8 (2)
Sperm Whale (possible) 2 (2)
ORCA (KILLER WHALE) ['Type A'] 9+ (9)

Track taken by the trip, heading out on the more easterly line.

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