(This report first appeared in the May 2015 club newsletter on BidLife Plett and is posted with the permission of the Editor. Images will be added later. - Ed.)
Pelagic Trip with Gwen Penry – Gordon Paterson
Bird Club – Three of our members, George Brown, Paul Falla and Gordon Paterson joined Dr Gwen Penry on a pelagic trip. It was planned for the Saturday but was postponed to Sunday because of weather, which in the end came up trumps. About 10 miles off the tip of Robberg the sea was oily calm.
To quote Gwen “It was truly one of the best trips I have done and I am glad you got to see the diversity of species we have just off our little bay here. In summary, we saw: White chinned petrels, Sooty Shearwaters, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Shy Albatross, Wilsons Storm Petrel, Swift Terns, Cape Gannets, Sub Antarctic Skua, Kelp Gulls and possibly a Giant Petrel. On the mammal side of things, Bryde's whales, humpback whale (juvenile) and Cape Fur seals and then of course the curious blue shark. The picture of the humpback whale tail shows some scarring which is attributed to attempted killer whale predation. We often see this on Humpbacks; the killer whales work in packs (much like wolves) and some will hold onto the tail while others try to drown it. This one luckily got away.
The craft was a deep sea sport fishing ski boat, the skipper of which often works with Gwen and is very knowledgeable of everything that was alive in the sea around the craft. Watching the fish finder over his shoulder and listening to his analysis of what we may find by “going and looking over there” was an experience on its own. All in all, the next time Gwen suggests such a trip give it serious consideration.