Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 23rd May 1999

Participants (19) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Des Agnew, Pam Agnew, Marjory Clegg, Kevin Coate, Dave Crossley, Jan Crossley, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Robin Doughty (Texas), Tony Kirkby, Shirley Kral (ACT), Graham Little, Bill McRoberts, Cameron Platell, Pieter Poot, Wladyslaw Sarafin, Bob Sothman (SA), Nigel Sutherland

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am - returned at 3.55pm.  The forecast was for a 1.4 metre sea on a 2.5 metre swell.  The going was very smooth to Rottnest Island with conditions becoming lumpier further out.  The swell was travelling west, so it took longer to return into the swell and the 15 knots easterly.  The day was fine with a minimum of 6 degrees as we left and a maximum of 20 degrees.  The previous week had seen a series of fronts pass through.  This plus the abnormally high water temperatures promised a day of interest.

Description :

A good trip overall with 8 pelagic species plus Great Skua, Arctic Jaeger and Australasian Gannet.  However, it was a slow start as usual until past Rottnest Island, and the afternoon was very quiet.  The highlight were the high numbers of Soft-plumaged Petrels including two grey birds and a Cape Petrel.  No cetaceans were seen but an identified turtle was briefly seen.

The day started out slowly as usual with hardly a bird seen before we reached Rottnest Island.  As we reached Rottnest Island a Wedge-tailed Shearwater and an Arctic Jaeger flew past quickly.  There was very little apart from Australasian Gannets as we passed Rottnest Island and we headed west.

As we got deeper we began to see Flesh-footed Shearwaters which were mostly in moult, a few Yellow-nosed Albatross the first Great-winged Petrels, and a few Great Skuas that were relatively common during the day.  As we passed 200 metres depth, we started burleying with beef fat and pilchards which brought in the birds including the first two Wilson's Storm-Petrels.

We stopped again at 450 metres depth after a possible prion was sighted and put out a slick which attracted good numbers of Soft-plumaged Petrels, Great-winged Petrels, several Wilson's Storm-Petrels and the first Cape Petrel.

We headed further west and passed the 115 longitude and the depth sounder went off the scales at over 800 metres.  However things were getting quieter, and they became quieter still as we headed north of the 32 latitude, and then made our way back to Hillarys.  We made a quick stop for some Soft-plumaged Petrels which included a Kerguelen Petrel near the back of the boat.

A (Green?) turtle about 60cm long made a brief unusual sighting well out of its normal range indicating the influence of the warmer water.  If I had realised that turtles are well out of range (the distribution of most end at Shark Bay) I would have stopped for a better look.  This was the first trip that we have seen no whales or dolphins.

Thanks to the skipper Trevor and the deck hand Dan.

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

07:10 S31 49' 34", E115 44' 16", 6m, 0.0km, 0 (Hillarys Wharf)
08:05 S31 57' 09", E115 33' 04", 25m, 22.5km, 234
08:10 S31 58' 02", E115 30' 46", 27m, 26.4km, 236
08:45 S32 01' 19", E115 21' 37", 97m, 41.7km, 241
09:05 S32 02' 51", E115 15' 45", 134m, 51.1km, 244
09:20 S32 03' 59", E115 11' 30", 240m, 58.0km, 245 (stopped until 09:50)
10:20 S32 05' 29", E115 04' 51", 450m, 68.6km, 247 (stopped until 10:55)
11:25 S32 06' 42", E114 58' 40", 800+m, 78.3km, 249 (stopped until 11:45)
12:45 S31 59' 44", E114 59' 41", 800+m, 72.6km, 257 (stopped until 12:55)
13:55 S31 57' 52", E115 15' 02", 160m, 48.5km, 254 (stopped until 14:00)

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) :

Cape Petrel (2)
Kerguelen Petrel (1)
Great-winged Petrel (~40)
Soft-plumaged Petrel (~100) 2 grey morph
Wedge-tailed Shearwater (5)
Flesh-footed Shearwater (~80) many moulting
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) (~30)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (~25)
Australasian Gannet (6 immatures)
Great Skua (9)
Arctic Jaeger (5)
Silver Gull (~30)
Crested Tern (~40)

Darter (1) harbour
Little Pied Cormorant (1) harbour
Pied Cormorant (15) outside harbour
Great Cormorant (1) harbour
Silver Gull (20+) harbour
Caspian Tern (1) harbour
Singing Honeyeater (1) harbour
Australian Raven (1) harbour
Welcome Swallow (~200) harbour

Mammal List :


Green Turtle (?) Chelonia mydas

Next Trip :

The next trips will be on Sunday 11th July 1999 and 5th September 1999.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email

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