Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 26th June 2005

Participants (27) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Margaret Armstrong, David Bennett, Irene Benson, John Brooke, Alan Collins, Hazel Darnell, John Darnell, Alison Gye, Joan Gye, William Gye, Judith Hoyle (Qld), Merrian Kuerschner, Mel Lintern, Paul Marty, Dusty Millar, Clive Nealon, Claus Nielsen (Denmark), Sally O'Loughlin, Peter O'Meara (Qld), Annette Park, Robyn Pickering, Jon Pridham, Ruth Reichenberg, Wendy Spencer, Kristel Wenziker, Peter Wilkins

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 3.55pm.  The forecast was for a fine day with a 1 metre sea and a 2 metre swell.  Clouds were forecast for the morning with a maximum of 19C. The winds were forecast to be light 10 to 15 knots NE in the morning swinging to NW in the afternoon.  There was little cloud, and the wind in the afternoon seemed to have strengthened to maybe 15 to 18 knots still from the north east.  The wind from the north caused a little roll, but generally the conditions were excellent.

Description :

A trip that will be remembered for the large feeding flock of Australasian Gannets and Yellow-nosed Albatross interspersed with small scattered numbers of dolphinsHumpback Whales gave close views including a breech.  There were very high numbers of Soft-plumaged Petrels but the diversity of species was comparatively low despite the best burley trail that we have created.

From Hillarys we headed roughly WSW heading for the trench NW of Rottnest Island.  Australasian Gannets were fairly common in small numbers, then the first Yellow-nosed Albatross was sighted, followed by a distant view of a Southern Giant-Petrel seen by a few people on the bow, a brief view of a Shy Albatross, the first Great-winged Petrel and a Black-browed Albatross.  Then a group of three Humpback Whales (two adults and a calf) were sighted.  We approached and had good views including one breeching level with the boat.  In this period we saw our first Soft-plumaged Petrel and Great Skua.

We continued, briefly detouring for another Humpback Whale.  The first Cape Petrels appeared.  In the distance we could see a large flock of birds and we headed over to them.  As we approached two Pantropical Spotted Dolphins leapt from the water.  The flock was comprised of Yellow-nosed Albatross and Australasian Gannets.  The latter could often be seen plunge diving.  A few petrels were also present.  Dolphins could be seen spread throughout the area.  Bottlenose Dolphins gave excellent views often swimming next to the boat.  A couple of Common Dolphins appeared very briefly near the stern.  A school of about 20 Long-beaked Bottlenose Dolphins were seen a few times.  The Soft-plumaged Petrels teased the photographers with many close fly bys.

We moved deeper stopping as we approached the 250 metre mark.  The slick created by suet, pollard, popcorn, dog food and fish oil was very effective and the first Wilson's Storm-Petrel appeared almost immediately.  Soft-plumaged Petrels came to the slick in large numbers.  We moved the boat a couple of times so that we could drift back through the slick.  Nothing new appeared so we moved deeper stopping again at about the 320 metre mark.  The slick again was very effective but a Black-browed Albatross was the most interesting sighting.

We finally headed for home, stopping for good views of two more Humpback Whales.

Thanks to the skipper Steve and deck hand Tenil.  Special thanks to John Darnell for mixing most of the suet, pollard and oil prior to the trip.

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

07:10 S31 49' 34", E115 44' 16", 5m, 0.0km, 0 (Hillarys Wharf)
08:30 S31 55' 18", E115 23' 45", 45m, 34.0km, 252 (Humpback Whales)
08:55 S31 55' 09", E115 21' 51", ??m, 36.7km, 254 (Humpback Whale)
09:25 S31 57' 26", E115 14' 55", 155m, 48.4km, 252 (flock, dolphins, stopped until 10:15)
10:45 S32 00' 31", E115 11' 45", 240m, 55.0km, 248 (stopped until 11:50)
12:15 S32 02' 07", E115 10' 26", 325m, 58.0km, 246 (stopped until 13:00)
14:30 S31 54' 55", E115 23' 09", ??m, 34.9km, 243 (Humpback Whales)

Bird List (Christidis & Boles order) Total Number (Maximum at Same Time) :

Southern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 13 (3)
Great-winged Petrel 25 (7)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 90 (30+)
Black-browed Albatross (race melanophrys) 2 (1) (immatures)
Shy Albatross (race cauta) 1 (immature)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 130 (60) mixed adults / immatures
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 15 (7)
Australasian Gannet 130 (80) (5 immature)
Great Skua 7 (3)
Silver Gull 4 (2)
Crested Tern 15 (3)

Mammal List :

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata) 2 (2)
Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) 2 (2)
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 30+ (30+)
Long-beaked Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) 20+ (20+)
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 7 (3)

Next Trip :

The next trip from Hillarys will be on Sunday 31st July 2005.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2005 Visits Last Modified 30th June 2005