Friday, April 28, 2017

Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition Report - 9 April 2017

Summary: The Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expeditions are run by Naturaliste Charters from late January until mid-April from Bremer Bay. While the focus of the trip is whales and the boat does not stop to chum, it is a useful boat to look for seabirds. It was a great day out with very calm conditions. We started off seeing Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater and Little Shearwater. We continued on to the Bremer Canyon where we immediately saw a Great-winged Petrel and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel but the main species seen was always Flesh-footed Shearwater. The highlight of the trip was at least 5 Black-bellied Storm-Petrel and fantastic views of Sperm Whales. Other good sightings included distant views of two Wandering Albatross, at least 25 Shy Albatross and a minimum of 10 Soft-plumaged Petrels. A Black-faced Cormorant in the Fishing Jetty area was a surprise.

Flesh-footed Shearwater at Bremer Bay (Photo: Robyn Pickering) 

Conditions: It was a very mild day with a forecast maximum of 21 C and light winds. Sea and swell data is not available at Bremer Bay but the observer estimates swell of less than 2m for the majority of the trip with a uncommon maximum of approximately 4m sea + swell. 

The Bremer Canyon (courtesy Google Maps)

Report: We boarded at 8am at the Bremer Bay Fishing Jetty and after a briefing from the skipper, marine biologist and photographer we left at about 8.30 am and headed to the Bremer Canyon. We started off seeing Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Australasian Gannet, Flesh-footed Shearwater and Little Shearwater on the way out. We continued on to the Bremer Canyon where we immediately saw a Great-winged Petrel and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel along with more Flesh-footed Shearwater. 

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, immature (Photo: Robyn Pickering)
Great-winged Petrel (Photo: Robyn Pickering) 

Then came many more Wilson’s Storm-Petrels. The skipper headed towards where some Flesh-footed Shearwaters were sitting and feeding on the water. It was hoped that they were feeding on scraps from Killer Whales but on closer inspection they must have been feeding on live prey close to the surface of the water. 

We headed west and a Sperm Whale spout was seen in the distance and the skipper headed in that direction. Close by we found the first of the White-faced Storm-petrels dancing across the water near to the boat, along with Shy Albatross and a Soft-plumaged Petrel. We then had fabulous views of the Sperm Whale just before it turned down to the bottom of the Canyon to feed. 

Sperm Whale was a mammal highlight at Bremer Canyon (Photo: Robyn Pickering) 

Sperm Whale diving at Bremer Canyon (Photo: Robyn Pickering)

Several single Black-bellied Storm-Petrels along with more Soft-plumaged Petrel were seen. Then a very young Black-browed Albatross followed by more, older Black-browed Albatross. At about the same time we saw a distant Wandering Albatross and another Great-winged Petrel flew past. 

Immature Black-browed Albatross (Photo: Robyn Pickering) 

Immature Browed-Albatross, Bremer Canyon (Photo: Robyn Pickering)
All day there had been a steady stream of Flesh-footed Shearwater and Shy Albatross. The skipper turned the boat around and we headed east back towards the Killer Whale “hot spot”. We saw several more sperm whale and another two were approached and viewed before they dived down to feed below. 

Shy Albatross, Bremer Canyon (Photo: Robyn Pickering) 

Shy Albatross, underwing (Photo: Robyn Pickering)
We arrived back at Bremer Bay Fishing Jetty by 4.30pm. A major thanks to the Crew of Naturaliste Charters for the great service they provided. They run a very professional boat and the food was fabulous! We never saw any Killer Whale but this means we can book back onto the boat within a 12 month period at just over half the normal price! We are looking forward to this next trip! 

Bremer Canyon, Western Australia, 9 April 2017

Species list [Total seen (max seen at one time)]:

Wandering Albatross 2 (1) 
Black-browed Albatross 14 (2) 
Shy Albatross 25 (4) 
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 10 (1) 
Great-winged Petrel 5 (1) 
Soft-plumaged Petrel 10 (1) 
Flesh-footed Shearwater 500 (55) 
Little Shearwater 15 (2) 
Wilson’s Storm-petrel 50 (15) 
White-faced Storm-petrel 20 (3) 
Black-bellied Storm-petrel 5 (1) 
Australasian Gannet 10 (1) 
Black-faced Cormorant 1 (1) 

Mammals: Sperm Whale 5+

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