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.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip November 2013

Mottled Petrel and large numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters were the highlights of the November 2 pelagic trip off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. We had high hopes for this pelagic as there had been a prolonged period of rough weather offshore in the days preceding and a forecast 10-15 knot south-easterly. As it transpired, however, the wind was barely moving; it was consequently one of those days when not much was happening, although some cetaceans and a big fish livened things up.

Short-tailed Shearwater
The day belonged to the Short-tailed Shearwaters, the first of which we saw even before we had left the Mooloolah River following our departure from the Mooloolaba Marina at 6.30am. The Short-taileds were ever present as we headed offshore on a fine, sunny day, with a water temperature of 25 degrees and a maximum temperature for the day of 27 degrees. A fair number of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters made an appearance inshore. Cetaceans were looking good with three species of dolphin seen on our way out.

We crossed over the shelf in two hours following a smooth ride with a swell of under a metre and began leaving a berley trail at 8.40am at 410 metres, 32.5 nautical miles from shore (26',36',692'S; 153', 43', 630'E). The wind was barely discernible, an easterly breeze of under 5 knots which altered little as the day progressed.
Mottled Petrel - Picture by Raja Stephenson
Our hopes lifted soon after arriving on the shelf when we saw a distant Mottled Petrel. However, Short-
tailed Shearwaters and a few Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were all that were coming to the boat. The Short-taileds were about the boat all day. A distant Sooty Tern was seen soon after we arrived on the shelf. Soon after, a single Wilson's Storm-Petrel passed by the boat and later in the morning a second storm-petrel stopped briefly to check out the berley.

Short-tailed Shearwater
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
A welcome diversion was afforded by a Tiger Shark which appeared just under the surface and lingered around the boat for a while. Then around midday a second Mottled Petrel was seen, this one closer but still not coming to the boat.

Short-tailed Shearwater
It was evident that the Short-tailed Shearwaters were hungry as they were feeding constantly. Large numbers of shearwaters are currently being washed up on Sunshine Coast beaches, continuing the trend over the past 3-4 weeks which has seen a huge wreck of this species along the coast of south-east Queensland and New South Wales.

After drifting south with the current for 8 nautical miles, we headed inshore at 1.30pm, seeing little other than a nice pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins and arriving back at the harbour at 3.30pm.

PARTICIPANTS: Lachlan Tuckwell (skipper), Greg Roberts (organiser), Luke Bennett, Duncan Cape, Wayne Ellis, Rod Gardner, Nikolas Haass, Sue Lee,  Ross Sinclair, Natalie Sinclair, Raja Stephenson, Paul Walbridge, Brian Willey, Michael Wood.

SPECIES: Total (Maximum at one time)

Short-tailed Shearwater 400 (30)
Wedge-tailed Shearwater 40 (5)
Mottled Petrel 2 (1)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 2 (1)
Crested Tern 6 (2)
Sooty Tern 1 (1)
Silver Gull 8 (6)

Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin 4 (2)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin 2 (2)
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 7 (4)



  1. How exciting to see the Tiger Shark! I bet it has had more than a few Shearwaters recently...

    I'm always curious about what cetaceans live in the offshore waters here so thanks for including them in your report too!

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