Trip report: Mini Pelagic out of Hermanus

This report was provided by Johan van der Westhuizen.

Lester van Groeningen arranged with a local fisherman to take us on a mini-pelagic cruise out of Hermanus New Harbour. We met at 08h00 at the boat yard and then watched how the skipper expertly launched the boat. It was a perfect day with a light wind blowing and swells of 2,5-3m. Close to shore we encountered the usual gulls, terns and cormorants. Just outside the harbour we spotted several seals lazing about with their flippers in the air. A Brown Skua soon arrived and followed us out into the deep sea.

As we ventured further out, we encountered huge numbers of Sooty Shearwaters as well as the occasional White-chinned Petrel, gliding effortlessly over the sea surface. Once the boat stopped and the chopped-up bait fish were dropped over the side, more Brown Skua arrived as well as a lone Seal. This drew the attention of the albatrosses. First to arrive were the Shy Albatrosses, followed by a Black-browed Albatross and an Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. The two photographers were kept busy trying to get decent photos of these swift moving birds. A smaller bird flew past quickly, but Lester managed to get an identifiable photo. It turned out to be a Cory’s Shearwater. Northern Giant Petrel and Southern Giant Petrel also made an appearance. As we returned to the Harbour, two Humpback Whales entertained us by breaching close to the boat.

The four birders were elated with what they experienced. Many thanks to Lester for organizing the outing and to the very patient Skipper. Nine Pelagic species were logged which made for a very successful trip.  

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