A natural history blog by Greg Roberts, Sunshine Coast, Australia
Sunshine Coast Birds
Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.
Monday, 28 August 2017
Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip August 2017
Humpback spy-hopping. Pic by Rick Franks
multiple and unusually close encounters with multiple Humpback Whales
were the highlight of the pelagic trip off the Sunshine Coast on
Sunday August 27, 2017. No particularly
to relatively calm conditions, though
winter records of Tahiti Petrel and Sooty Tern were interesting.
were high with a forecast of winds from the right direction (E-SE) at
15 knots as we departed Mooloolaba Marina at 6.35am on another clear
winter day. A
Sooty Oystercatcher on the rocks at the Mooloolah River mouth was
was the second pelagic foray on our 17m boat, Crusader 1, operated by
Sunshine Coast family company Sunshine
Coast Afloat. Thedeep-hulled
a swell of up to 2m that had been whipped up by strong winds offshore
the preceding days.
Humpback Whale with calf
spotted quite a few Humpback Whales on the way out and a couple of
small groups of Hutton's Shearwaters, along
the first Wedge-tailed Shearwaters of the season.
After a few stops we reached the shelf at 9.10am at 400m, 32 nautical
miles offshore: 26.42.174S; 153.42.680E. We had an excellent
encounter with a pod of Humpbacks in 300m and that set the pattern
for the whole time we were out on the shelf, with whales frequently
in sight and often venturing
close to the boat. It is unusual to find Humpbacks out on the shelf
and to see so many this day was quite extraordinary.
first Providence Petrel soon appeared as began laying a berley trail
and we were to have small numbers of these about while we off the
Wilson's Storm-Petrels put in an appearance along
with a few more Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.
single Tahiti Petrel was unexpected at this time of the year. A
Sooty Tern - Pic by Malcolm Graham
Sooty Terns were seen distantly and Crested Terns were constantly
about the vessel. A
Tiger Shark was seen to surface briefly.
Humpback Whale head's encrusted barnacles
Whale encounters got better and better with the huge mammals on
several occasions swimming under the vessel in clear view. These
culminated in a superb performance by an adult female and attendant
adult male which in
unison spy hopped several times, raising their massive,
barnacle-encrusted heads above the water within a few metres of the
boat to check us out.
Humpback Whale - Pic by Rick Franks
whales were so close that my prime 400 lens was of little use; thanks to Rick Franks for some of these images. It
was as well that the whales put on a show because the forecast fresh
south-easterlies did not materialise, with a gentle breeze struggling
to reach 8-10knots despite the vigorous swell. After drifting 3
nautical miles eastward to 800m, we turned around at 12.45pm
to head back.
saw plenty more Humpbacks and more Hutton's Shearwaters, some not far
We managed reasonable
views of most shearwaters and there did not appear to be any
Fluttering among them.
Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphins
had a nice encounter with a large pod of Offshore Bottle-nosed
Dolphin, including a small juvenile.
found a Brown Booby perched on a trawler as
the winds picked up quickly, sharply and belatedly.
to the marina at 3.40pm, spotting an Eastern Reef Egret perched
by the swimming pool of a canal home. Again,
all aboard were impressed by the comfort, space and amenities of
Crusader 1, along with the enthusiasm of its crew.
Roberts (organiser), Toby Imhoff (skipper), Zoe Williams (deckhand),
Chris Attewell, Duncan Cape, George Chapman, Jo Culinan, Robyn Duff,
Rick Franks, Malcolm Graham, Matteo Grilli, John Gunning, Jane Hall,
Mary Hynes, Russ Lamb, Davydd McDonald, John Merton, Trevor Ross,
Eske Ross, Jim Sneddon, Raja Stephenson, Ged Tranter, Jamie Walker,
Chris Watts, Chris Wiley.