A lovely day out at sea today filled with some excellent wildlife sightings. Our first of the day were some beautiful Cape Gannets feeding around a small bait ball. Gannets are South Africa’s largest residential seabird with a wing span well over two meters. These birds dive into the water to feed at heights of around 30 meters before plummeting into the sea at speeds up to 100km per hour. To combat this the Cape Gannet has internal nostrils and air sacs in the face and spinal cord that act as bubble wrap to help cushion the impact. The diving birds led us straight to our first member of the Marine Big 5, the Bryde’s Whale. Unfortunately, this animal did not want to cooperate today, so after a few glimpses we moved back towards the Dyer Island System in search of more wildlife.
As we arrived in Shark Alley, Geyser Rock seemed slightly empty of Cape Fur Seals as most may have been off fishing. Nevertheless, our pinniped pals always put on an awesome show fur us both on the rock and in the alley. After we had spent all the time we could with the seals, we moved onto sponge bay at Dyer Island in hopes of catching a glimpse of the endangered African Penguins amongst tens of thousands of Cape Cormorants. Luckily for us, two had just popped out of the water when we arrived, and it being a very calm day on the water, were able to get very close to the birds.
We then made our journey to the Shark Cage Diving Vessel in the shallows, but before we could make any distance we spotted a Southern Giant Petrel feasting on a dead seal pup. Unfortunately, only around 50% of the 12,000 seal pups born each year will won’t make it to their first birthday. By having more pups than the ecosystem is vital as it ensures only the strongest pups will survive and pass on desirable genes. Our last sighting came in the form of very large Great White Shark. The Shark took the crew unawares and managed to hang on to the bait line, providing guests on both boats some amazing views of the this primordial creature.
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