27 March 2017

101 Dalmatians? Try 101 African Penguins....

Written by Jax, March 27 2017

27 March 2017

Guide Summary and Photographs

After a week’s absence, I was very excited to hop back on to Dream Catcher today and the trip really did not disappoint. The sea has been pretty perfect for weeks now and today was really no exception, with the last bit of the summer sun still blessing us with its warmth.

We had a nice cruise through the shallows, taking in the scenery before we stopped at the beautiful Slashfin to see if we could spot the apex predator of the Dyer Island Eco System. We managed to get quite a nice view when a juvenile White Shark went for the bait, exposing his silvery dorsal side. These sharks are very slow to mature with females only reaching maturity at a length of 4.5 – 5m.

After this we stopped by the island were the absence of all the sea birds was pretty apparent, but, more on this later. We had a look at the houses before going in to what I like to call penguin cove where there were a few well camouflaged little ones on a boulder.

As we made our way into Shark Alley, we spotted Lwazi, our research vessel. At this time of year, we begin to see a change in the migratory patterns of the white sharks were they move towards the island to feast on our seal pups. Today, it looked like they were having a little more luck in the shallows so it seems as though the sharks have not yet started moving.

The seals were also low in numbers today and we spent a good 15 minutes with the colony. The seals stayed very close to rock and were few in numbers in the water today which also shows that they are a little more on edge than in the summer months. Following this, we made our way into deeper water.

There was a lot of fish around today with spouts coming from all directions. After failing with the first and second, we manages to get a nice sight of 3 different Brydes Whales. We also had a lot of Cape Gannets around and, today they were really showing off their diving. I’ve posted my best attempt at photographing it below but it really is a magnificent sight to see. They can dive from a height 0f 30m and hit the water at an impressive speed of 80km/h.

On our way back to the harbour, we saw something that none of the crew could believe. We had seen a group of Gannets sitting on the water and had slowed down to pass them when we saw what must have been around 100 African Penguins sitting in the water. We have never seen anything like this before and these guys were so comfortable that they were actually approaching the boat. We all watched in absolute awe, completely ignoring the Gannets, Swift Terns and Sooty Shearwaters around us. The penguins spent a good 10 minutes with these amazing flightless birds.

At the same site, which was obviously jam packed with fish, we had a Brydes Whale come up 20m from the boat. After this amazing sighting with penguins and the whale we set our eyes on the harbour.

Once in the bay again, our last sighting was of a Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua) badgering a poor swift Tern in the hopes that it would regurgitate its last meal. What an awesome welcome back.

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