Day 10 Common dolphins comin’ in! (Written on Jan 28, 2013)
The moon, oh, I love our moon –it streams a path to the portside wheelhouse door in between the intermittent cloud cover. Tonight on our screen a strong constant energy pulse at 50 Hz with tones at 40 and 60 Hz dominates, possibly blue whales. We will investigate these recordings, among many other fantastic looking signals and sounds we have been able to collect. This is truly addictive, hearing the sounds of the ocean live, in concert!
Not much is singing on the sonobuoys, except the consistent blue tones. Given the cacophony of the previous few nights, I am amazed to realise how quickly one can become complacent about just hearing and seeing blue whale sounds. Never, ever take this for granted I tell myself, this is such a privilege…
At 00:51:43 we are 69.3 nm SSW of the lovely Victorian seaside Southern right whale-watching town Warnambool. In relation to this town, so adopted by several of the crew during uni studies, the whales we encountered yesterday were almost 170 nm offshore. I am reminded of how wonderful our good ship Whale Song is, taking care of us way out in the middle of the blue.
Just crossing the 2000 metre line we are technically still travelling in the Great Australian Bight. By 1 am cloud has covered the moon but the full moon-ness continues to illuminate the cloud with a handful of light streaks amongst the other-wise, dark looming cumulonimbus. Travelling from Deep Water habitat of 3000 metres, 2500, 2000, 1500 and 1000 metres into the Shelf regions at 25, 45, 89 and 95 metres of Bass Strait, we will be very interested to see the next species encountered.
Near 0900 am, we encounter signs of other human life, an unmanned oil/gas monopod named on the chart as “Thylacine” and a west-bound ship. We have been in our own world for the last few days. Upon sighting smudges of land, the land-sick girls cry excitedly, “It’s the Ottways! Oh, so close to home!”
Today, we have had 13 pods of bow-riding Short-beaked common dolphins showing beautiful cream and buff cross-over patterns with matching cream patches on the dorsal fins, fine beaks and strong athletic bodies dancing back and forth all around us! The ship’s paparazzi has collected thousands of images of multiple layers of dolphins swirling around the bow, variously leaping/rolling and even one encounter of 50 animals stacked up closely on the bow part of a pod of up to 100 animals! Hard-drives will drown today! Alone, I shot 1637 photographs and 5 long video clips… of dolphin blow-holes, leaping bodies, gorgeous flukes and multiple views of Skipper barking with great gusto at his friends from the bow fair-leads and perched half hanging out of the main-deck skuppers! What a wonderful crazy day! Each day at sea is most surprising and engaging! What a privilege to have our office between the two blues!
We advance the clocks one hour ahead so we are at EST (Eastern Standard Time) without Daylight-Savings compensation, thus 10 past 6 becomes 10 past 7. It’s a grey old day, grey sea reflecting a huge band of grey cloud that signals the beginning of a forecast front system. New bird species today are Australasian gannets and many Short-tailed Shearwaters. Australian sea lions, individually or in rafts of 4 and 12 lay at the surface in the calm conditions with front and back flippers lazily extended haphazardly skyward.
The sea is a bright, bright blue and full of life. The photos give the impression of an alluring, gorgeous pool with dolphins cruising through, well it is isn’t it? The sea is so calm, albatross (Shy, Yellow-nosed and Grey-headed) rest on the sea surface. Large, white avian bodies are scattered across our viewing area. Several Shy Albatross sitting on the water ahead of the boat take off as we approach and we can hear clack, clack, clack, as their webbed feet slap the surface whilst trying to take-off from a stationary position. Unbelievably, in about 7 steps they are air-borne and their bulky frame is once again gliding.
Over dinner of Resty’s and Inday’s delicious Filipino meat and vegetable spring rolls, special fried meat-lovers and veggie rice, a game of charades progresses, especially helped by chocolate log and chocolate ice-cream. Our day with bow-riding dolphins, even right until the end of daylight makes for yet another fantastic Monday!
Thanks everyone for giving it all you’ve got to look and listen continuously – an awesome job all around!
Basking in the calm of Bass Strait (sshhh!),