We had 2 awesome trips out today, with some adventurous whale watching due to the north wester we had blowing in. Despite it being a little windy and a little wet, nothing could damper our spirits and we were able to spot 3 of the Marine Big 5 on both tours of the day, which included lots of African Penguins who were taking advantage of the fish coming through the area.
On trip one, our travel time was zero before finding the whales, with 2 cow calf pairs just outside of the harbour. These gorgeous Southern Right Whales were hanging around close to Black Sophie, the rock which marks the harbour, so we decided to check them out for a bit. After doing some slow travelling the whales started to have some fun right next to the boat, with baby doing a bit of spy hopping and giving us an occasional tail tip to enjoy. The highlight of this sighting however was when baby put its tail right over mom’s head. Baby pushed its belly so far out the water you could see the genital slits and this sighting quickly became quite a humorous one when the mom began to swim with baby in this position. Baby let it happen for a bit before rolling back over, but this was certainly a special sight.
We had a really cool encounter shortly after this, when we found a bait ball of schooling fish being harassed by a host of seabirds. This was an incredibly special bait ball as one could actually see the fish, which is something that hardly happens here. you could see the dark, densely packed shadow moving below and at times we even had some of the fish jump out the water. This had become a feeding frenzy for the Cape Cormorants, African Penguins, Swift Terns and even the Kelp Gulls, though the gulls looked a little more intent on going for the fish already caught by the other hardworking birds. This was an action packed sighting and certainly one of the highlights of the tour. Our last stop of the day was our Cape Fur Seal colony before heading back to the harbour. On the way, we spotted a Southern Right Whale sticking his head out the water and a pesky Sub Antarctic Skua trying to make friends with our boat.
Trip two started a little differently, when we spotted an African Penguin in need of some help. This poor little bird was badly entangled in fishing line, which had already started to tighten onto his little back and white body. We tried to catch this bird to give it the help he so desperately deserves, but after going a little too shallow, we had to call our expert land team to do a beach rescue. We’re very happy to say that this penguin is now in the loving, capable hands of our African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary who will make sure that he has a clean bill of health before releasing him.
We spotted several more African Penguins next when we encountered another bait ball. These penguins were super relaxed and we even got to see them do a bit of preening. After our time here, we went on to spend time with 3 cow calf pairs of Southern Right Whales. we had some close approaches from a couple of the pairs before heading on off to Dyer Island, travelling along The Clyde reef system. We then cruised into Shark Alley to hang out with our Cape Fur Seals for a bit before making our way behind the island and then back home to the Great White House.