Albany Western Australia Pelagic Trip Report Sunday 1st August 2010
Trip report by Alan Collins

Participants (18) :

Alan Collins (organiser), Ben Allen, Robin Ashford, Claire Bartron, Wes Cooper, Dave Crossley, Jan Crossley, John Graff, Meta Hunt (USA), Bill McRoberts, Wayne Merritt, Trent Miller (USA), Frank O’Connor, Grant Penrhyn (South Australia), Warwick Pickwell (Queensland), Jon Pridham, David Shackleford (USA), Andrew Sutherland

Conditions :

Departed Emu Point Boat Harbour at 7.00am. Returned at 4.45pm.  The forecast was for a fine and sunny day, with 10 knots northerly winds. Seas were 1m with a swell of 2m. Conditions were, unlike the previous day, comfortable throughout and by the end of the trip the ocean was almost glassy!

Description :

The trip highlights were undoubtedly the prolonged and close views of three Southern Right Whales and a close encounter with a shark.  As the boat cast off and cruised through King George Sound, an adult Pacific Gull watched up from the same rock as the previous day. Within a couple of minutes a shout of “Whales!” was heard and as we stopped three Southern Right Whales surfaced and put on a great display less than 50m from the boat. We pressed on and a few Australasian Gannets and a Brown Skua were flying around in the sheltered waters. As we passed The Heads, dolphins were seen in the wake and jumped fully out of the water, identified at Common Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

When we reached a depth of 450m, we stopped and put out the chum/burley.  One of the first birds to arrive was a Northern Giant-Petrel, which was joined by both Great-winged Petrels and Soft-plumaged Petrels. The sea conditions made viewing and photography much easier than the previous day’s trip. A few adult Yellow-nosed Albatross flew in and then an immature Black-browed Albatross made an appearance. A Salvin’s Albatross was spotted, but it didn’t land on the water and soon continued on its way. A Cape Petrel was attracted to the oily slick and, after a few passes of the boat, decided to land at the stern of the boat. (Looking at the photos, this was a different bird from that seen on the Saturday). Also the first of the Shy Albatross made an appearance.

The boat had drifted out to 600m depth and we moved across the underwater canyon to another position.  As we moved, a prion was seen from the stern and although we stopped the boat and put out some fish oil, the prion didn’t linger. From the brief views obtained it was probably a Slender-billed Prion.   We moved further out to a depth of 950m,  but no additional species were added to the list, though more Great-winged and Soft-plumaged Petrels were present in the deeper water.

At our last stop (400m depth) we put out the rest of our oily chum/burley and this clearly attracted the 2m shark which appeared.  It tried to bite the Yellow-nosed Albatross sitting on the water and, when they flew off, it decided to attack the bait bag and a struggle ensued, which of course the bag lost.  The chum mix was released into the ocean.

As we headed back into King George Sound, the water was like a mirror and many Australasian Gannets were diving from great heights in pursuit of fish, and we had time for one last close encounter with a Southern Right Whale before we reached the harbour.

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

Black-browed Albatross 4 (1) (adults, 1 immature)
Shy Albatross 5 (2) (adult, immature)
Salvin’s  Albatross 2 (1) (immature)
Yellow-nosed Albatross 50 (8)

Southern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Northern Giant-Petrel 1 (1)
Cape Petrel 1 (1)

prion sp 1 (1) (probably Slender-billed Prion)

Soft-plumaged Petrel 10 (5)
Great-winged Petrel 70 (12)

Australasian Gannet  100 (24)
Brown Skua 4 (1)

Mammal List :

Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) 3 (3)

Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 6 (6)

Other :

Spinner Shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna)

or Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus)

Next Trip :

We are considering a weekend of trips in May 2011.  For details contact Frank O'Connor on 08 9386 5694 or email foconnor@iinet.net.au

© Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2010 Visits Last Modified 16th August 2010