Guide Summary and Photographs
We had some unusual conditions out in the bay today, with a Berg wind blowing and bringing hot dry air to our town, which saw our day time temperature rise well above 25 degrees Celsius, something that is not all too common in the middle of winter. “Berg” is the Afrikaans name for mountain, with this winds blowing in from the interior of the country (or from an area of high pressure) towards a coastal low. This natural phenomenon happens only in winter when conditions are just right, and we could not be more thankful for it as it made for a lovely, warm sea day.We set out this morning at 10:00 onto a flat sea and hugged the coast along towards Franskraal where we lucked upon a mating group having some fun just off of the beach.
Over the last week, it seems as though mating action is really starting to heat up in the bay with several groups forming and giving us some lovely views of this interesting behavior. These surface-active groups tend to do a lot of rolling around, which is one of the sights we were treated to today. With flippers in the air and the occasional bit of tail popping out, we had a spectacular time watching these whales fool around.
An interesting question posed whilst out there today was “How do marine mammals beat the bends?”. For those of you who don’t know too much about diving, the bends is a decompression sickness In which nitrogen bubbles end up in one’s blood stream after ascending too fast. Although the bends may affect some marine mammals (beached animals, particularly those disturbed by things like sonar, have been found to have symptoms of this sickness), they appear to have special adaptions in their lungs to prevent or at least try to minimize the amount of nitrogen, whilst allowing some oxygen to enter the animal’s system. It is believed that blood will move through an area of the lung that is collapsed during the dive and not an area filled with air and that this facilitates the movement of the good gases (Oxygen and some Carbon Dioxide) and not those that would cause the bends.
Back to our tour update, we went on to see a few more members of the Marine Big 5, with us ticking off the Great White Shark next we got to see one of these gorgeous cartilaginous fish over by the cage diving vessels, before moving on to see what their favorite food source: The Cape Fur Seals, were up to today. We had a very amusing stop here indeed when we happened upon a seal who tried – and failed- to gracefully jump off the Prince Port. This poor guy ended up falling face first of the keel of the ship, much to the amusement of all who had watched this clumsy creature’s attempt to jump. After making sure she was okay, we carried on with our tour, spotting an African Penguin on Dyer Island and 3 more in the water before heading back.