Friday, 11 May 2012

Pelagic off Tanjung Dawai 10/5/2012 - luck of a dead cobra happen this happen this morning when I suppose to join Dave Bakewell ( to a pelagic outing onto anchovy boat in Tanjung Dawai. That morning I went to my usual grocery shop to get my stuff I need on our trip. On my way to Seberang Jaya mosque, I saw something scaly and bloody on the road.

It is a snake hit by a vehicle, pity

It turn out to be a Cobra - I bet this small cobra had been hit by a motorbike, but somehow it manage to slither to the roadside and die here, I'm planning to take the head but someone waiting for me. Better hurry, so after I move the dead snake body - I continue riding my motorbike to the promised location.
In the middle of my ride, my phone ringing and I know I had to hurry and I manage to arrive on 0503 at the mosque. In Dave car's we went to Tanjung Dawai.

The fishing boat with two loving dolphin greet us as usual - while we boarding the new boat...

View of the new boat front deck from the captain's room - this vessel had 4 storeys with the length of 120 feet, the largest anchovy boat in Tanjung Dawai.

With the great vessel come the great crew - those band of old boys and some of them is the important crews
 for this vessel.

This is PokYa from Besut, Terengganu, he is the vice-captain and net supervisor of the vessel.

Our trip began as all the vessel crew especially those band of old boys assemble on the boat. We leave Tanjung Dawai at 0655 in the morning.

Behind us - Gunung Jerai look foggy, Sungai Merbok look dark

Well, weather look promising as the sky show some 'overcast' character - but you'll never know what out there.

We were greeted by some swift, egret and heron action before we leave the estuary of Sungai Merbok entering the Kedah water.

First few terns moving north - most of the birds cocsist of Bridled Tern

The boat captain make a call and Mr Harom, ready to launch the net for the day first catch

The net that had been launched - two crew will make a drumming sound in front of the boat to create panic to the fish do that they won't move down.

Attracted to the activities, terns gather near the net to feed on the fish - Bridled Tern make up the biggest proportion of tern in Tanjung Dawai today

Lesser Crested Tern - Not so common during this time of year in Tanjung Dawai

This bird look elegant - the orange bill with black-capped

Comparison between Lesser-crested Tern and Common Tern, the number of Common Tern today decreases slightly where no more than 10 individuals seen

A Skua try to approach the boat - but leave as soon as it get the food from the tern

It turn out to be a Long-tail Skua/Jaeger - They are still numerous compared to last week and other Skua/Jaeger in Malaysian water.

Today is the first time I seen all three Skua/Jaeger species in Tanjung Dawai - although had seen that in Mersing, my opinion is Mersing is a better places for Skua/Jaeger compare to Tanjung Dawai.

The main attractor bird in Tanjong Dawai is the Short-tailed Shearwater, which whenever it fly past the boat some of the crew will shout to us - offering a better chance to take picture of this tubenose.

It fly very close to the sea surface - thus the less choppy condition of sea would offer a better chances to observe this magnificent bird.

On the second net launch, the shearwater come close and sit on the water within the net's buoy ring - offering good opportunity to observed this bird closely

It dip it's head into the water - peeping for fish to feed on or shy?

...And Short-tail Shearwater performing this at least 6 round during the second net launch.

After the second catch, the captain decide to go back as the catch was not so good today. However, since some of the crew claim that Sunday and Monday are the best day to observe sea bird, I decide I will come back for the pelagic trip this Sunday - Still hoping for any first record. Anyway the sighting of shearwater and all 3 Skua species please me for this trip and a bonus:

A mixed school of Indo-pacific Bottlenose Dolphin and Humpback Dolphin to make up a good day.

The final count of the day are:
Bridled Tern 450
Common Tern 8
Lesser Crested Tern 2
White-winged Tern 2
Sooty Tern 1
Long Tail Skua 6
Pomarine Skua 1
Arctic Skua 1
Short-tailed Shearwater 6

Bottlenose Dolphin 4
Humpback Dolphin 2

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Labour's day Pelagic off Tanjung Dawai

I make a last minute call to join Choo Eng and Dave Bakewell for a pelagic trip on anchovy's fishermen boat in Tanjung Dawai on Labour day holiday. I'm seeking any opportunity to go out to the sea since I left Pulau Tengah last November and only had the chance after nearly 6 months. After watching the Manchester derby, I left my home at 5 and it not took me long to wait for Dave and ChooEng. We arrived at Tanjung Dawai fishing port at 6.30 and the fishermens greet us with smile.

The view of the fishing port from the boat upper deck

The view of the anchovy boat

7 in the morning, we set sail to the sea - this is my first experience riding the new boat, and I found the new boat was more comfort compare to the old one - but not as comfort as the fishing boat in Mersing.

The storm is coming - despite the nice sea condition we had today, there are big cloud over Pulau Bidan and the cloud seem building up over Gunung Jerai - The first shearwater of the day was spotted at this point.

The first haul of the day - A lot of by catch capture by the fishermen today : They claim today as the weird day, by catch including Tuna, octopus, Lutjanus sp. , Mantis prawn, squid and mackerel

Not many bird came by the boat as the  fishermen launch their net, however, the bird number building up as the boat move further northeast. This including two Short-tailed Shearwater, groups of White-wing Black Tern, Bridled Tern, Common Tern and Long-tailed Skua/Jaeger.

The tubenose (real pelagic bird) of the day - Short-tailed Shearwater, local call it 'Itik Air' which mean aquatic duck. Although it use to be an unusual bird, most of fishermen in Malaysia recognize it and please with the present of this bird - They claim it as luck bringer.

A flock of Bridled Tern flew past as the boat move

Meanwhile on the boat, although the fishing had done, the fishermen continue their work in processing the anchovies - They have to boil and let it dry - those fishermen who did not conduct the boiling will sewn the damaged net and rearrange it, so it be easy for them to launch the net on the next catch.

The fishermen boiling the anchovies - build up the smell, and the smell attract 2 more shearwater.

Anchovy drying process - increase the degree of smell produced, on top is the squid, another by catch that have market potential.

Our friend, Mr. Harom prepared to release the net for the second catch - Look promising as the number of terns building up

Terns including this Bridled Tern feeding gracefully around the boat, terns number building up really quick until...

The Long-tailed Skua come and marauding them - This Skua dare to come close to the boat to get the terns catch.

After It got the tern catch it go away - move away from the boat

After the threat of Skua gone, terns coming back closer to the net to feed. This Bridled Tern seem still alert after the Skua attack.

On the second catch, a gracious tern fly toward the boat and it turn out to be an Aleutian Tern - A lifer for me. White winged Tern all seen in their breeding plumage. The fishermen satisfied with their catch and the total count of the day are:

White-winged Tern 150
Bridled Tern 100
Common Tern 60
Black-naped Tern 3
Whiskered Tern 1
Aleutian Tern 1
Long-tailed Skua 6
Short-tailed Shearwater 5
Unidentified Shearwater 1
Unidentified Skua 2

That's all for this visit, as we enter the month of May and June, I'm looking forward for more pelagic trip in Tanjung Dawai and in Pulau Sembilan in Perak. One of the fishermen share a valuable info with me - To go on with the fishermen in Langkawi as those fishermen go out longer and further. When we reach the port, I'd met someone I know from Mersing - one of Mr Mustafa boat crew, what a small world I thought, after a few friendly chat we leave. Here from the fishermen of Tanjung Dawai: 

Our Fishermen friend in Tanjung Dawai. The tagline mean 'the band of old boys'