More jelly, more pollution and a whole heap of Whales

In Eden we say goodbye to Andrew and welcome Melodee to join the crew on board  Yukon.

ECOedenUlladulla_IMGP3650Melodee has spent 12 hours on the road crossed state lines and driven over 1000km to join the East Coast Odyssey expedition.. how cool is that?!

Our last days in Eden see the arrival of two more tall ships, initially the Young Endeavour and the Soren Larson. The locals must have felt they were being invaded by an armada of pirates!

As we depart the Soren Larson, incidentally another Danish built wooden ship, salutes us with three cheers and their dreadlocked engineer leapt into the harbour from the yard arm.

EastCoastOdysseyDepartsEden_SST1659

The wind is light so we hoist most of our canvas to make best use of it and set course to the continental shelf.  Sailing is pleasant  and one of our first wildlife encounters is a sunfish, quite a surprise, which took us a little while to identify.

We also had the privilege of witnessing humpback whales feeding, an incredibly rare sight off the east coast of Australia. Humpbacks often use “bubble nets” to corral schools of fish before surfacing through the heaving mass and gulping down their prey.

Chris Sanderson (2)The waters are unseasonably warm, which appears to have promoted algae and sea jelly growth. Unfortunately this is interfering with our ability to trawl for micro plastics,  an ideal trawl is made for an hour duration and yields a good sample, though with this excessive biomass we can’t  trawl for moreChris Sanderson (3) than a few minutes without clogging our net.

To compensate for the less than ideal conditions we ramp up our visual observations, looking out from the deck for visible plastic floating past. This is easier said than done, though all our visual observations bar one have recorded floating plastic, from bottle caps to polystyrene and fragments of plastic bags.

Melodee is having a great time, and proves to have an incredibly keen eye for spotting wildlife. More often than not Melodee spots our animal companions before the more experienced crew.  We get some fantastic whale action, with around 36 whales spotted on one watch.

As we head north the weather forecast suggests that overshooting Ulladulla and dropping back with the weather change is a good strategy, so we set course for Jervis bay.

ECOedenUlladulla_IMGP3681One thing the forecast failed to mention was that the Australian Navy was engaged in exercises… so as we approached we could hear the rhythmic whump, whump, whump of ships guns.  Then, perhaps in a moment of distraction, we decide an anchorage called “Target Bay” would make a good shelter from the weather. Not so.. after some heavy sailing and multiple tacks we make the bay, only to discover the name is quite literal, with a sign on the beach advising to stand off five nautical miles as live firing exercises are in progress. We radio in and sure enough the navy is start to due shelling in 45 minutes!  We hightail it out of there and find a safer anchorage.

After a pleasant night at anchor and a beautiful sunrise over Jervis Bay we motor out and set sail for Ulladulla. Almost straight away we are mobbed by schools of common dolphins, brilliant frolicking off our bow, these animals are so effortless in their movements.

The final run turns into a slow sail and almost a glass out.. the wind is so  low theECOedenUlladulla_Dolphines seabirds are floating on the surface, choosing to drift rather than spend energy keeping aloft in the low wind. Our final observation for the leg yields no plastic, the first negative result we’ve had so far.

Surprisingly one of the last animals we spot are Manta Rays!, They are on collision course for the Yukon’s bow before noticing us, then with a flick of their awesome wings they are gone.. pure magic.

As we make our final approachChris Sanderson (1) into Ulladulla the local Sea Rescue boat comes out to greet us, and we finally spot some floating pollution, a scarlet Coke can floating on the glassy sea. We scoop it up and head in to port, looking forward to running day trips and workshops with the Ulladulla community.

Want to join us on a morning sail  in Sydney? BOOK HERE

Paul Sharp

Paul Sharp- Founder Two Hands Project –
Paul has worked ‘hands on’ in marine education and shark conservation for over twenty years. Growing up, Paul rescued marine life and seabirds, and noticed the increase in plastic pollution and its impact on wildlife.

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