- 1 MINKE WHALE
A Cape Town Pelagics trip departed Simon’s Town on
Friday 31 March 2006, led by Ross Wanless. The day was all
set to be a cracker, as there was virtually no swell, and
just enough wind to give lift to the birds, nothing more.
We encountered the usual coastal species in the bay, as well
as a flock of 20-odd Sabine’s Gulls, and passed a large
current-line on the way to the deep, finding hundreds of the
commoner petrels in the area. The highlight of the trips came
when a whale blow was sighted, and we turned to investigate.
We cut our engines and let the whale approach us, and got
excellent views of a Minke Whale. This species is not abundant
in our waters and is seldom seen on pelagic trips: such good
views made it a big bonus.
Our really fast boat got us out to the trawlers in just over
2 hours, which gave us oodles of time to find the best boats.
The first trawler started hauling as we arrived, and produced
an immense crowd of birds. Its catch was miserable, and it
moved off at full steam, making following it uncomfortable,
so we skipped over to another boat nearby. After about an
hour of almost no action, the winches began and the birds
came in. There was a frenzy of activity behind the bag as
seals competed with sizeable yellowfin tuna, which broke the
surface and even leapt clear of the water at times! The birds
were, needless to say, amazing, and at such close quarters
that photopgraphers onboard were struggling to get them to
fit into the field of view! We headed home after a good 3.5
hours with the trawlers and a good mix of northern hemisphere
migrants and southern ocean species.