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 5 – December , 2016.

After a frustrating night when the ship went backwards, we awoke well north of Marion, beating slowly SW into a large, lumpy sea alive with Salvin’s Prions. The slow ship’s speed and large numbers of prions made it difficult to estimate bird numbers, but a reasonable number of transects were conducted for kelps and other drifting debris. We finally arrived in the channel between Marion and Prince Edward in the late afternoon, surrounded by large flocks of prions. Of the island’s breeding petrels, only the winter-breeding Grey and Great-winged Petrels were not recorded.

Salvin’s Prion 10000s White-chinned Petrel  100s
Wandering Albatross 10s Soft-plumaged Petrel 10s
Northern Giant Petrel 10s Sooty Albatross  10s
Diving Petrel spp. 10s Brown Skua  10s
Black-bellied Storm Petrel 10s Southern Giant Petrel 1s
Grey-headed Albatross 1s White-headed Petrel  1s
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross 1s Blue Petrel  1s
Grey-backed Storm Petrel 1s Sthn Rockhopper Penguin 1s
Fairy Prioy 1s Sooty Shearwater 1
Kerguelen Petrel 1 Light-mantled-Albatross 1
Black-browed Albatross 1

No cetaceans or man-made debris were seen, but there were several fur seals. A few bull kelp plants were seen at some distance from the islands, and rafts of giant kelps Macrocystis were abundant in the channel between the islands. The day was capped off by lively Christmas celebrations…

Salvin’s Prion taking off; note the broad bill adapted for filtering zooplankton