29th March: On watch from 2am on SPV Odyssey and cruising down the Dampier Peninsula, I was astonished to see schools of prawns and sardines dancing in the glare of the spotlights off Pender Bay. This was the last leg of another amazing 21 day “big wet” cruise along the Kimberley coast, extending from the Prince Regent River to Broome.
The ocean has again come to life after Cyclone Lua earlier in the month. The abundance of fishlife was evident around Montgomery Reef, but most impressive along the Dampier Peninsula. As the day dawned just to the south of the Lacepede Islands, hundreds of schools of baitfish, mackeral tuna, mackeral and finny scad emerged, hounded by flocks of terns and Boobies looking for an easy meal.
The abundance of baitfish and pelagics continued unabated all the way south to Willie Creek, just to the north of Broome. This was reminiscent of an similar bait event that occurred in 2009, which we witnessed from the air around the same time of year. This is again a delightful reminder of the richness of the marine environment along the Kimberley coast. 2012 should also be a great year for the humpback whales that come to feed along the Dampier Peninsula.