Eaglehawk Neck Pelagic trip report 7 April 2019

Eaglehawk Neck Pelagic Trip Report – 7th April 2019


Ruth Brozek, Daniel Dance, Karen Dick, Paul Fraser, Steve Grainger, Winnie Grainger, Sara Grealy, Mona Loofs-Samorzewski (report compiler), Andi Magnusson, David Neradil, Peter Vaughan and Els Wakefield. (Paul Brooks, the trip organiser, was unable to attend, with Karen Dick in charge of the trip on the day.)


The Pauletta, skippered by John Males, with deckhand Adam Mackintosh.


A gentle start to the day with clear blue skies and little to no wind, making for a very pleasant trip out to the shelf along a route we never usually take: southeast rather than directly south to the Hippolytes or north towards Maria Island. The almost completely bird-free offshore waters had us slightly worried, but this changed dramatically as soon as we stopped to berley, with at least 30 Shy Albatross, a range of Diomedia Albatross (including one young Northern Royal), many White-chinned Petrels and a smattering of other species all crowding around the boat. At 29 species, diversity was pretty good, with a mixture of late summer and early winter birds bumping up the numbers. The highlight was one Soft-plumaged Petrel, which did a lap of the boat before disappearing. Providence Petrels were in evidence, with at least 8 passing through, although none coming particularly close. Although the wind picked up a little it never reached the forecast 20-30 knots, so we had time to take a trip to the Hippolytes and the Lanterns in the afternoon, which gave us a few juvenile Gannets but no sign of the Brown Booby, unfortunately.


We left port at 0710 and headed southeast until we were approximately in line (but north of) the Hippolytes then turned more easterly until we hit the shelf break at 0855 over 310 fathoms. The skipper kept the boat chugging around in circles in order to give us a smoother ride, so we stayed roughly in place, gaining some depth at 360 fathoms, until 1110 when we headed north. At 1140 we stopped for our second berley over 240 fathoms, and again circled around in the slick. At 1230 we called it a day and headed west to the Hippolytes, then past them towards Fortescue Bay, before motoring back along the coast, docking at 1435.


Skies were sunny and blue when we left, with areas of thin, high cloud around the horizon. The wind started very light in the NW and swung a little around to the NE, increasing slowly to 10 kn until we reached the first berley spot. The long-period SW swell was low at < 1m, and stayed that way for the duration of the trip. The cloud cover increased but remained very high and light, and the wind picked up to 10-15 kn, whipping up a 1.5 m sea on top of the swell, but then dropped away as we returned. Water temperature was 16.2°C at the first berley and slightly higher at 16.5°C at the second berley spot. One seasick.



Australian Fur Seal: 8 on The Hippolytes in the afternoon.

Common Dolphin: approx 20 inshore in the morning


Birds (IOC v 8.1 – max at one time in brackets):

Wilson’s Storm Petrel: 2 (1) pelagic.

Grey-backed Storm Petrel: 5 (4) pelagic.

Wandering Albatross: 2 juveniles in pelagic waters.

Antipodean Albatross ssp gibsoni: 11 of varying ages, pelagic.

Southern Royal Albatross: 3 (2) pelagic.


Campbell Albatross: 1 pelagic.

Black-browed Albatross: 1 pelagic.

Shy Albatross: 50 (30) 11 inshore, 36 around the boat in pelagic waters, 3 on our return. Many in moult, and quite a few juveniles.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross: 1 pelagic.

Buller’s Albatross: 9 (3) 2 inshore in the morning, 5 pelagic, 2 inshore in the afternoon.

Northern Giant Petrel: 4 (3) pelagic.

Cape Petrel: 2 (2) pelagic, 1 australe and 1 capense.

Fairy Prion: 3 (1) pelagic

Grey-faced Petrel: 6 (1) pelagic.

Great-winged Petrel: 2 (1) pelagic.

PROVIDENCE PETREL: 8 (1) pelagic, all single birds heading southeast.


White-chinned Petrel: 16 (16) started with 2 offshore and numbers swelled to 16 pelagic. One appeared to have a minimal white eye-ring.

Sooty Shearwater: 5 (1) 2 offshore and 3 pelagic.

Short-tailed Shearwater: ~1100 (~400) Approx 800 inshore, 150 pelagic, 150 offshore in the afternoon.

LITTLE SHEARWATER: 1 briefly landed on the water, offshore in the afternoon.

Common Diving-petrel: 1 offshore in the morning.

Australasian Gannet: 105 (25) 40 offshore in the morning, 4 pelagic (1 imm), 52 (7 imm) on and around the Hippolytes in the afternoon and 10 inshore (1 imm).

Black-faced Cormorant: 106 (50) 2 inshore, 76 on and around the Hippolytes, 28 inshore in the afternoon.

White-bellied Sea-eagle: 1 inshore in the afternoon.

Silver Gull: 35 (9) inshore and around the Hippolytes.

Pacific Gull: 5 (2) all inshore, 2 in the morning, 3 in the afternoon.

Kelp Gull: 24 (3) inshore and around the Hippolytes, a few in moult.

Greater Crested Tern: 27 (12) 12 inshore, 1 offshore, 2 pelagic, 5 around the Hippolytes, 7 inshore in the afternoon.



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