“Great fun. Loved the seals + staff was great!” – The Greenspon’s
“Great staff, very nice trip!” – Deryl
We set out bright and early this morning on Whale Whisperer at around 9, hoping to beat the wind predicted for the afternoon. With a small group of only 8 clients, we launched onto a perfect sea and travelled along the coast, checking out the rugged shoreline that marks the sleepy suburb of Franskraal. Keeping to our routine, we did our daily stop in front of the Uilenkraalsmond estuary and then stuck just behind the breakers, taking in the white beaches of Die Grys. The South African coastline consists mainly of these sandy shores, which are ever changing due to the wind and water which constantly shapes them.
After taking a stop at the shark cage diving boats, which were a little quiet, we moved on towards the shallow reefs of The Clyde, where we picked up a large piece of kelp, which is actually a large, fast growing algae. The predominant species of kelp found in our area is Sea Bamboo, which flourishes in the waters of the cold, nutrient rich Benguela current. The Benguela is said to be one of the oldest currents in the world and we’re super lucky to have it support an immense amount of wildlife. The kelp alone harbours many different species, including limpets, abalone and sea urchins who rely on the kelp for food and shelter. Once we had spent some time admiring the reef, the deep sea was our next port of call.
Amazingly, it was incredibly quiet a little further ashore, with only the cormorants and terns to be seen scattered along the great blue expanse. Most of the creatures that we hope to see are constantly on the move, scouting for schools of fish that make their way through the area. This means that on days were the fish stocks are a little low, sighting animals in the deep does become a little more tricky but, luckily there was still plenty of things to keep our interest as we travelled in search of our animals.
One of the most fascinating things to be found out there was the presence of red tide which seems to slowly be making its way into the bay. A consequence of upwelling, this is a plankton bloom we experience in our summer and autumn months when the phytoplankton in the area begin to flourish due to the nutrients below being brought up in the water column. We see it as a red or green discoloration of the water, with the blooms often spanning over great distances. Red tide most famous for its potential effects on shellfish, with some varieties such as Karenia brevis off the Gulf of Mexico.
Once we’d checked out the open ocean, we moved in a little closer to the mainland, taking a stop at Geyser Rock, the home of the Cape Fur Seal. The island was pretty empty today with a lot of the adults out at sea, so we got to see the little ones really well. These pups are edging towards the age where they will be taking to the water, with some brave little ones already trying their luck. We had one such baby today, who took it upon himself to mission half way through the alley before we picked him up and dropped him back off. The seals were also a bit skittish today, with a few occasions where they would all flock towards the water, creating a comical and intriguing sight.
On the way out of the alley, we spotted a few Giant petrels sitting on the water and then did one last stop at Dyer Island to point out some African Penguins before returning to the harbour.
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