We had 4 trips out on Dream Catcher today, with the day starting off with some unexpected rain! This meant that the waterproof pants came out to play, with us all walking down to the harbour covered from head to toe!
On the very first trip of the day, we head on over to the shallows to start off out trip with some Southern Right Whale watching! We’re super lucky to have these animals come so close to shore, with us having spent time with some of the whales today in around 3m of water! The reason for them coming so close to shore? The bays are said to be far more protected from wind and swell than where they’re from! We got to watch a few pairs on this trip, with the whales coming up gracefully as they moved about. We also got to see the whales super nice and close, with a mom giving us a touch of tail and a bit of her large head in the same movement, which is something that we don’t see every day. After spending some time with the whales, we stopped at Slashfin where we got to see a Short tailed Sting Ray, which can have a wingspan of up to 2.1m. We found some African Penguins In the water next and then moved on over to check up on our Cape Fur Seals on Geyser Rock.
The second trip also saw us heading towards Uilenkraalsmond where we caught up with our whales! The Southern Rights that we’re seeing at the moment are all mom and calf pairs, who will be making their migration to the south in the next month or so. Southern Right moms are great parents, with the survival rate of calves being estimated to be roughly 70%, which is great for any species. Southern Right Whales have very few natural enemies but, unfortunately, the whales in our bay have recently made a new one.
Kelp Gulls are very well known to be highly opportunistic with a wide variety in their diet. These birds are known to enjoy a good old piece of whale skin every now and then, which they usually grab hold of after the whales have rubbed against each other or breached, which causes the skin to dislodge. What the gulls are not known to do here is to peck at the whales flesh, well, that was up until our 3rd trip of the day. Whilst watching the whales only metres from the boat, we had several Kelp Gulls arrive, with one individual going at the whales, tearing off flesh from a wound most probably opened a little earlier in the day by the gull.
This could potentially become a huge problem for us, as Argentina began to experience whale calf fatalities when their gulls identified them as a food source. Although we only had one guilty gull today, these birds are very intelligent, picking up new habits from one another very quickly.
Luckily, we did not witness any of this behaviour on the 4th trip, with the birds leaving the whales in peace. We spent time with 3 mother calf pairs, with one cheeky calves giving us a few breaches in the distance.
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