Gannets galore

Saturday September 7, 2013

[From the trip East Coast Odyssey]

The weather this morning for our half day trip was stunning.  A thick fog blanketed the land as we sailed out in low swell and moderate wind.  Sadly the wind did die off for much of the trip, but we did get some nice sailing in towards the end.  Wildlife was erratic, but we had some great sightings, with many Common Dolphins feeding in fish schools that were dotted around the ocean surface, and lots of shearwaters and gannets in the area.  Today was actually the first time we've had Australasian Gannets at close quarters diving for fish, which is a pretty awesome spectacle.  They fly up to about 20-30 metres above the surface of the water, and then suddenly turn over their shoulder and dive at an angle towards the water.  As they build up speed they stretch out their neck and fold their wings so they look like a strange arrow heading into the water.  The splash they make as they enter the water puts our olympic divers to shame!  Above the surface the performance is elegant, but the really cool stuff happens below the water.  Having entered at speed, and reduced their resistance to a minumum, they cut straight into the water and dive quite a way down.  They can even at this point open their wings and give a few more underwater flaps to propel them towards their fish prey.  They can actually go several metres under the water while doing this.  Eventually the pop up to the surface and sit there for a brief moment before taking to the skies to repeat the manuever.  We did have a brief Humpback sighting, but overall whales were pretty quiet today.  In terms of plastic we picked up some polystyrene a number of kilometres out to see, and saw a white shopping bag floating in the water also.  The highlight for one of our young passengers was the chance to steer the boat back into harbour, under the careful guidance of our captain of course!  In all a great day for everyone involved.




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