Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 17th November 1996

Particpants (23) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Mariee Bougher, John Brooke, Jean & Bruce Burton, Michael Craig, Jean Craig, Brycen Godfey, Danae Haarmen, Kim (KC) Lim, Catlyne Margrain, Susie Maxwell, Stuart & Jan Miller, Glenn Moore, Clive Nealon, Ross Payton, Cameron Platell, Louise Prince, Wladslaw Sarafin, Jeremy Talbot, Roy Teale, Vanessa Yeomans

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.35am - returned at 4.25pm, less than 2 metre swell, almost flat seas, a light breeze mainly after midday.  A cloudy but fine day of about 23C maximum.  After strong winds all day Friday and part of Saturday morning, these were excellent conditions and we hoped for a good variety of species, which was not fully realised.

Description :

This was the second trip of what hopefully will be four per year.  The day started out very slowly with almost no birds (not even terns) before we reached Rottnest Island.  We stopped for 10 minutes for a group of 3 Humpback Whales.  A couple of Bridled Terns and an Australasian Gannet were seen as we reached Rottnest Island.

We went around the back of Rottnest Island where we started to see a scattering of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.  Near the West End of Rottnest Island we headed west where the numbers of shearwaters increased.  We stopped for four birds on the surface which proved to be 2 Wedge-tailed and 2 Flesh-footed Shearwaters.  As we continued out there were continual sightings of both shearwaters plus a few more Bridled Terns.

We stopped for about 20 minutes where the depth was 200 metres, and threw some burley over.  However, the only species seen were about 50 Flesh-footed Shearwaters.

We decided to head out for deeper water.  The depth dropped off quickly and we stopped with the depth over 500 metres.  We stayed for an hour throwing burley and oil over the stern, but the results were very disappointing with almost everything being Flesh-footed Shearwaters, although there were a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters that kept their distance, and at least 4 Great-winged Petrels which came fairly close on a few occasions.  At least one White-faced Storm-Petrel was seen a few times, but it never came as close as the previous trip.  As we were about to move off at 11:30 we saw a Wilson's Storm-Petrel, and then a Great Skua was seen harassing a shearwater.  This species was unexpected this late in the year.  It was disappointing to see no albatrosses or other petrels, and even the Crested Terns that were fairly common offshore on the last trip were absent.

We headed north towards shallower water and stopped for 30 minutes for lunch when the depth was about 300 metres.  The deepest we got on the August trip was just over 200 metres.  Nothing different was seen, although we saw a few more Great-winged Petrels, Wilson's and White-faced Storm-Petrels.

We continued north into shallower water and stopped for a school of dolphins.  School is probably the wrong term, as they were scattered over quite a wide area, often putting flying fish into the air, one of which hit the side of the boat and was then taken by a dolphin.  The dolphins had a white tip to their nose, and a relatively tall thin fin.  They were later identified as Bridled (or Spotted) Dolphins.  While watching the dolphins a Crested Tern came in closely followed by an Arctic Jaeger.

We headed for Hillarys seeing more shearwaters and storm-petrels and a few groups of 20 or so Bridled Terns.  We stopped near one group where the water boiled with small fish.

As we passed through the reef at Hillarys we had a brief detour to Little Island to look for a possible Little Penguin.  However, there were only Pied Cormorants, a few terns and gulls and one Australian Sea Lion.  We docked at about 16:25.

It was a great day for a boat trip, but the list of 5 pelagic species and 4 others was disappointing, although there were 5 species not seen on the August trip.

Many thanks to the skipper Andrew and the deck hands Craig (who chopped up the fish scraps and prepared the burley) and Brian.  Thanks also to the participants who make these trips possible.

Time/Latitude/Longitude/Depth/Distance/Bearing of most stoppages :

07:30 S31 49.6, E115 43.3, 7m, 1.2km, 260 (Hillarys)
08:30 S31 54.6, E115 35.0, ?m, 17.1km, 239
09:30 S32 00.0, E115 20.6, 100m, 41.7km, 245
10:00 S32 00.7, E115 13.1, 197m, 52.9km, 249
10:25 S32 00.8, E115 08.7, 520m, 60.0km, 252
11:30 S32 00.9, E115 08.3, 540m, 60.0km, 252 (after drifting)
12:40 S31 59.1, E115 13.4, 304m, 51.4km, 252
13:00 S31 55.7, E115.13.7, 158m, 49.1km, 259
13:40 S31 54.2, E115 18.5, 100m, 41.1km, 260

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) :

Great-winged Petrel (7+ most in heavy moult)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater (100+)
Flesh-footed Shearwater (300+)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (8)
White-faced Storm-Petrel (8)
Australasian Gannet (5)
Great Skua (1)
Arctic Jaeger (1)
Silver Gull (1)
Crested Tern (2)
Bridled Tern (~100)

Pacific Black Duck (2) at harbour entrance
Pied Cormorant (~100) harbour & Little Island
Common Sandpiper (1) harbour
Silver Gull (30+) harbour & Little Island
Caspian Tern (1) Little Island
Crested Tern (6) harbour & Little Island
Laughing Turtle-Dove (1) harbour
Welcome Swallow (6) harbour & just outside

Mammal List :

Humpback Whale (3)
Bridled (Spotted) Dolphin (Stenella attenuata) (40+)
Australian Sea Lion (1) Little Island

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2004 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002