Sydney Pelagic, 13 October 2012

David James’ trip report is here.

Well, here I was again, planning another pelagic. Booked in a week and a bit out, and as the time approached, I was becoming slightly more and more concerned about the weather forecast. On the 10/10, a system of 3 moderate low pressure cells were forming up, with one bigger one off towards NZ. A big front passed through on the Thursday/Friday, with accompanying big seas and wind. This led to the departure time being pushed back to 9am instead of the usual 7am, but we still had a pretty bouncy trip, with 3ish metre swell and 2-3 meter seas – yeeeeeeehaw!

Juvenile White-capped Albatross

I don’t mind big seas as much as I thought I would, but I don’t like it anywhere near as much when the boat is jammed full of people, and there’s big seas. Particularly when it seems that a not insignificant amount of participants hadn’t taken sea-sickness medication, or really didn’t like big seas. I conservatively estimate that about 1/3 of the participants were spewing at some point, and another 1/3 were very green. The personal highlight was when the back of the boat smelt like a teen new years party at 6am the morning after, due to people vomiting all around. While that tested my resolve, I am still yet to be sick on a boat. And that’s enough vomit talk for this post.

Birds! The plus side of sea birding following a big blow is that there’s usually something special around, and this trip maintained that, giving us repeated views of a fairly close approaching Cooks Petrel (bird #526 on the life list). Apologies for the dubious nature of some of those shots – pitching boat + fast flying bird = dodgy photos. I haven’t done any processing to them, they’re just 100% crops of the originals converted from raw.

Cook’s Petrel

Other sterling birds seen were plenty of White-faced and Wilson’s Storm Petrel’s (we had at one point 5 of the former and 3 of the latter around the boat), more albatross than you could shake a stick at, and a few very close approaching Sooty Shearwaters.

White-faced Storm-petrel

In terms of sea monsters, we had some close sightings of Humpback Whales, a couple of dolphins, and a couple of close approaches by Ocean Sunfish.

All in all, a great day out on the ocean. I’ll definitely be back. I reckon there’s a few people who were on that boat that will never go on another boat that leaves the heads, and if I’d been sick for 10 hours, I probably wouldn’t even venture on the Manly Ferry on a calm day.

Humpback Whale