By Peter Ryan, onboard scientist, expert in general ornithology, seabird-fishery interactions, evolutionary ecology, marine debris, solid waste management, biology of oceanic islands.
Leg 1, Day 1
Day 1 was an atypical day for ACE, travelling through the tropical waters of the Agulhas Current. As a result, we saw quite a few species that are unlikely to be seen again until we return to the Cape in three months. In terms of numbers, most birds were Palearctic migrants* from the North Atlantic. The most abundant Southern Ocean species was the Great-winged Petrel, a rather confused species which breeds at Subantarctic Islands in winter, then spends the summer roasting in tropical waters.
|Leach’s Storm Petrel*||24|
|Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross||4|
|Northern Giant Petrel||1|
Calm seas early on made it easy to spot cetaceans, with five rorquals seen before 9h00 (1 Bryde’s, 1 possible Fin and 3???). But the cetacean highlight came in the late afternoon, in the form of a pod of Gray’s Beaked Whales. Flying fish were abundant, and three large ? Yellowfin Tuna were nice to see. Plastic waste was fairly abundant by Southern Ocean standards: 13 items in 262 km of transects