Sea Birding Pelagic Trips South Africa, Cape Town Pelagics


  Trip Reports - Trip report for 24 June 2006




- Thousands of Antarctic Prions
- Mid-winter Manx Shearwater
- 3 Humpback Whales
- 2 satellite-tagged albatrosses

A select group of people were invited to join a Cape Town Pelagics trip on the inaugural trip of Obsession, a brand new vessel available exclusively to Cape Town Pelagics.; What a stunning boat: large, luxurious, with sheltered, padded seating, a fly-bridge, full walk-around and acres of space fore and aft. With a top speed in excess of 40 knots, Obsession is REALLY fast! We set off in idyllic conditions, led by Ross Wanless and assisted by Barrie Rose, Barrie Watkins and Sam Petersen. We made Cape Point just as the sun peeked over the eastern mountains and lit-up the dramatic cliffs with a spectacular, warm orange glow. Things only got better from then on! Shortly beyond the point we had picked up several petrels and shearwaters, when Barrie Rose saw a humpback whale in a partial breach. We were able to get fabulous views as the three very accommodating whales did their thing. A little further on and we go onto our first ANTARCTIC PRION of the day. Next up was a very rare sight for a mid-winter pelagic out of Cape Town - a MANX SHEARWATER. Dave Christie put Obsession though her paces and we were able to catch up with the little bird, confirm its ID and get great repeat views. Shortly thereafter we were treated to one of the most fantastic sights imaginable on a pelagic: thousands and thousands of Antarctic Prions in a relatively dense flock. They had aggregated around a current line and it was amazing to be completely surrounded by so many individuals of a species of which one seldom sees more than a handful in a single trip.

We found two trawlers at about 23 miles from the point. The first boat had just finished processing her small catch, so the birds had already dissipated. We sped off to the second trawler, working in the opposite direction and a couple of miles away. We arrived as she began processing the catch and were treated to a classic show of thousands of petrels and albatrosses competing for the discards. Then we moved between trawlers and a couple of longliners, assisting Sam Petersen from the Save the Albatross Campaign, who was there to attach transmitters to albatrosses. It was superb for everyone on board to see the research being done and to get so close to these magnificent birds.
The day ended on a high note of a different kind, as we presented Sam with a cheque for the Save the Albatross Campaign, to the value of the Cape Town Pelagics profits from last year's operations. It was a great pleasure having Sam and her team on board and CTP are very proud to be able to support seabird conservation and research of this nature.



  Pelagic birds seen and approximate numbers



Shy Albatross 500
Black-browed Albatross 500
Indian Yellow-nosed Alb 5
Southern Giant Petrel 4
Northern Giant Petrel 1
White-chinned Petrel 500
Pintado Petrel 200
Antarctic Prion +1000
Manx Shearwater 1
Sooty Shearwater 100
Wilson's Storm Petrel 10
Southern Skua 5

  Coastal species seen



African Penguin
Cape Gannet
Kelp Gull
Hartlaub's Gull
Swift Tern
White breasted Cormorant
Bank Cormorant
Cape Cormorant
Crowned Cormorant


Thanks to everyone on board for helping make such an enjoyable trip!