Pelagic Birding

The Shy Albatross is endemic to Australia's Pelagic zone, and only breeds in Australian oceans
The Shy Albatross is endemic to Australia’s Pelagic zone

While we have, so far, focused mostly on the birds that are found on Australia’s land areas, this blog would not be complete if we did not tell you about some of our trips out to Australia’s Pelagic zones.

Where are the Pelagic zones (I hear you ask)?

The Pelagic zones are the areas of the ocean that occur far (far, far) from land, near the Continental Shelf and beyond.

So far we have made three trips out to these regions off of Australia’s east coast in the past 12 months to see how things compare at different times of the year. On the latest trip, we ended up travelling around 38 kilometres out to sea in search of some of the birds that call the vast oceans their home.

The GPS map route of our trip out to sea in search of Pelagic bird species
Our Trip Route


Over 200 of the birds recorded in Australia are linked to the oceans in one way or another. Some can be seen at the beach or sitting near seaside seats waiting for a hot chip or bit of bread, while others spend most of their lives away from land, only coming to land to breed. It is these latter bird species that we went in search of – the pelagic birds.

This is the realm of the ocean stars, such as the Wandering Albatross, and a host of other Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels, Storm-Petrels, Skuas, Jaegers and the occasional Penguin.

When you get to a point you think might be a good area, you still have to wait for the birds to come to you. They are looking for food on the surface of the oceans, and can travel thousands of kilometres in search of it, so it can be really hit and miss sometimes. Also, the species that are around can vary greatly from month to month, depending on the ocean currents, wind directions and breeding seasons. A good tour operator can make the difference between a great day out and a long, bumpy day out in a boat.

Here is a sample of some more of the birds you can see on these types of trips:

The Great-winged Petrel has an extremely large range, from the east coast of South America to the west coast of New Zealand
Great-winged Petrel
The Flesh-footed Shearwater is a common sight in the oceans of southern Australia
Flesh-footed Shearwater
The Wandering Albatross has the longest wingspan of any bird, and can travel over 1000 kilometres in a single day
Wandering Albatross

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