Perth Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 31st July 2005

Participants (28) :

Frank O'Connor (organiser), Margaret Armstrong, Carmen Ballinger, Terry Ballinger, James Bennett, Alan Collins, John Carroll (US), Brian Cordes, Elaine Cowan (UK), Peter Cowan (UK), John Darnell, Gustaf Egnell (Sweden), John Graff, Daniel Gruneberg (UK), Andrew Hobbs, Jill Hobbs, Merrian Kuerschner, Mel Lintern, Wynton Maddeford, Marion Massom, Clive Nealon, Easy Patterson, Lorraine Raidal, Shane Raidal, Kirsty Reid, Bill Russell, Bill Rutherford, Holly Smith

Conditions :

Departed Hillarys Boat Harbour at 7.10am. Returned at 3.50pm.  The forecast was for a fine day with a maximum of 21C with a 1.2 metre sea and a 3 metre swell from the WSW easing.  The winds were forecast to be light 8 to 13 knots NNE in the morning swinging to 13 to 18 knots NW in the afternoon.  There was little cloud, and the weather was as forecast.  The swell was comparatively high but wide spaced, and generally the conditions were excellent, and the light should have been very good for photography.

Description :

A trip that will be remembered for the the beautiful fine day and whales, but the numbers and diversity of birds was disappointing.  The water temperature was a surprising 21C and the wind from the north were major contributing factors.  We put out a burley better than the successful trail on the previous trip but very little was attracted to it.  Some of the few birds that sat on the water weren't even on the slick.  The main interest was the timing of this trip being at the end of July rather than mid August.  This brought about the overlap of Wilson's Storm-Petrel and White-faced Storm-Petrel, and a few Hutton's Shearwaters were seen on their southward migration.

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) :

Cape Petrel 1 (1)
Great-winged Petrel 35 (20)
Soft-plumaged Petrel 38 (8)
Yellow-nosed Albatross (race bassi) 33 (80) few adults / mostly immatures
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 3 (1)
White-faced Storm-Petrel 17 (5)
Australasian Gannet 105 (10) (1 immature)
Great Skua 8 (2)
Crested Tern 23 (4)

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 is expected to be in late June 2006.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2005 Visits Last Modified 31st July 2005