Sooty Tern, Tahiti Petrel, large numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters and a pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins were the highlights of the December 1 pelagic trip off the Sunshine Coast.
As we set off from Mooloolaba Harbour at 6.30am in our catamaran, Cat-A-Pult, the slightest swell and gentle north-easterly sea breeze of five knots did not bode well for the hoped for rarities. We reached the shelf within two hours and began leaving a berley trail of shark liver at 8.30am at 330 metres, 34 nautical miles offshore.
We drifted southwards for a couple of hours with the trail, seeing surprisingly little other than the odd Wedge-tailed Shearwater and regular flocks of 20-30 Short-tailed Shearwaters heading south. A good-sized pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins was nice, but the calm conditions were presumably keeping the Pteredromas away.
|Pantropical Spotted Dolphin|
|Pantropical Spotted Dolphin - picture Stephen Murray|
We decided to head further out to 360 metres, seeing a single Sooty Tern on the way. As we laid a second berley trail, we saw two more Sooty Terns, an occasional Flesh-footed Shearwater and a single Tahiti Petrel, which obliged by circling the boat several times, while showing no interest in the shark liver.
|Tahiti Petrel - Picture Paul Barden|
We headed back towards shore at about 1pm, seeing quite a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and a single Arctic Jaeger. We stopped for some Common and White-winged Terns closer in, as the wind belatedly began picking up to 15-20 knots, arriving back at the wharf at 3.30pm.
PARTICIPANTS: Lachlan Tuckwell (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser),
Paul Barden, Ian Barnett, Rob Dougherty, Judith Hoyle, Mark Clarke, Jim Macready, Steve Murray, Gavin O''Meara, Colin Reid, Kathy Wilk, Brian Willey, Chris Wylie
SPECIES: Total (maximum at one time)
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 15 (6)
Tahiti Petrel 1 (1)
Short-tailed Shearwater 400 (30)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 60 (6)
Flesh-footed Shearwater 3(1)
Arctic Jaeger 1 (1)
Crested Tern 20 (4)
Common Tern 30 (5)
White-winged Tern 2 (1)