Pacific Greylag receives a surprise feathered “hitchhiker” on board

On the evening of 26 April, whilst discharging deck cargo to the KG2 drill-ship, on the Gorgon Phase 2 Project, on the West Australian coast, a medium-sized bird was discovered between some deck cargo on the deck of the Pacific Greylag.

Juvenile Wedge Tailed Shearwater
A Juvenile Wedge Tailed Shearwater that was discovered on board Pacific Greylag.

Integrated Ratings, Michael Thomas and Trent Welburn, who found the bird promptly and carefully moved the bird out of harm’s way to a safe haven on the deck. The initial concern was to find out if the bird was injured, unwell or just resting but we were not exactly sure.

C/O, Marten Quirk contacted Chevron’s Materials and Logistics Specialist on the drillship to seek advice on how to manage the unexpected “visitor” on the deck. The KG2 promptly contacted their Environmental Specialists who provided us some advice on how to manage the bird.

The bird was identified as a Juvenile Wedge Tailed Shearwater, also known as “Mutton Bird”. Chevron’s Environmental Specialist, Blair Hardman (Blair) indicated that the young birds have recently taken to flying at this time of the year and tend to get very tired on their first flights and said that it was more likely that the “hitchhiker” had stopped at the vessel to take a rest. He advised that the crew should ensure that the bird is being kept in a safe location and be left alone and added that they should not provide it with any food or water. Blair also indicated that the bird could remain on the vessel for a short period of five minutes or as many as five days.

For the next four days, the crew took turns to check on the bird and noticed that it began to get restless and alert as the days went by. By the fifth day, the bird had disappeared from its usual spot on the deck. The crew looked around the vessel and was not able to find it, and assumed that it had likely taken off and continued with its journey.

Pacific Greylag is currently working not far from Barrow Island and its surrounding islands which is an A Class reserve and operates with the world’s largest non-government required quarantine management system to ensure that the islands’ natural fauna and biodiversity are protected.

The island holds large populations of sea birds and it could be possible that the feathered “hitchhiker” came from there. The crew updated Chevron’s Environmental Specialist that the bird had disappeared and were reassured to know from him that this is the typical behaviour of such juvenile birds. He thanked the crew for informing Chevron about the bird on board Pacific Greylag and for rendering assistance to the bird. The crew were happy to have done a good deed and thought that it was a great outcome for all.

Interesting facts about Wedge Tailed Shearwater

Its scientific name is Puffinus pacificus. The Wedge Tailed Shearwater is the largest of tropical shearwaters. This species breeds widely on small islands in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

It occurs as a casual resident in the waters off central and southern California. Its breeding habitats are found on islands off Japan, the Islas Revillagigedo, the Hawaiian Islands, the Seychelles and western Australia islands.

Its diet typically consists of fish, squid and crustaceans and its favourite food is goatfish, which can be caught near the surface of the water or by diving underneath.