By Floor Anthoni (2006)
(all photos A5@300dpi)
Large warm-blooded animals like dolphins, orcas and seals, need a lot
of food. So they are found where the seas are bountiful. Along the east
coast of New Zealand's South Island runs a current which at the same time
forms the subantarctic front. It is a place of upwellings and rich sea
life. The ocean's bounties pass so close to the shore that sperm whales
can be seen and seals do not need to swim far out to feed on squid. Meeting
seals in the water is quite daunting because the males are so big and fast
and they play so ferociously, staging mock attacks with fearesome bubble
screens. But the young pups, jealously guarded by their mothers, are just
so endearing. If only one could stay a little longer in these cold waters
Keywords: NZ, New Zealand, South Island, underwater,
water, adventure, nature, environment, swim, swimming, seal, fur seal,
fur, eared, pup, bull, Arctocephalus forsteri,
f210212: Near Kaikoura the shore is rocky and strewn with
large boulders. Here seals hang out but travelling tourists may not notice
them due to their excellent camouflage. How many seals are on this photo?
f210205: a mature bull seal has just arrived, shaking water
off his pelt, and dripping himself dry on the lower rocks. Then he will
clamber up higher to find a prime spot in the sun light for basking.
f210131: This bull seal is now drip dry and ready to clamber
higher up the rocks, ready to dispute others.
f210133: When wet almost jet black, a seal's coat becomes
lighter as it dries. These animals are not toilet trained and soil the
rocks around them, which assume a brown polished look, assisting in their
f210207: after a heavy day at the office, a seal blobbed
out on its back in utter dolce far niente (how sweet doing nothing)
f210210: this seal had so much confidence in our presence
(we kept talking to it) that it allowed us to make this closeup while not
even blinking an eye lid.
f210208: Seals have to swim large distances through dangerous
waters in order to find food, so they need a good rest in between.
f210202: the morning after the night before. This bull seal
was seriously hurt during a fight, and rests now to heal his wounds.
f210213: If you can get this close to a seal, it is easy
to tell whether it's a boy or a girl. This one is a male. No doubt seals
do most of their ablutions in the sea, but their presence on land is first
noticed by a profound stench. Notice the pool of pee.
f210710: a large bull seal has taken possession of prime
real estate, an isolated rock in the sea.
f210712: the large bulls are really frightening under
water, although their mock attacks are meant to just impress rather than
to hurt. Seals fight for territory only on land, but share the sea amically
f210714: These yearlings are not allowed in the seal colony
with the bulls and cows. So they have their own haul-outs like this one,
fringed by sturdy bull kelp that keeps attackers like lion seals, at arm's
f027035: a mother seal has parked her pup high up the muddy
slope undeneath a coastal thicket. Here she is seen sliding down the slippery
ramp towards the sea.
f027036: For a whole day or longer, seal pups are left unattended
behind while mum hunts for food. This baby is less than a week old, crying
like a human baby.
f027037 [A6]: A one week young seal pup.
f210717: this bull seal, master of his beach, challenged
the photographer in a serious stand-off dispute. Armed with only a miniature
tripod, the fight was eventually settled on size and ferocity.
f210719: a NZ fur seal bull, the beach master, has turned
his head, acknowledging defeat in a standoff dispute with the photographer.
f027123: a young bull furseal comes home after a long spell
at sea. Totally fatigued, he ignores the photographer, looking forward
to a rest while sunbathing on the rocks. [A6]
f026429: a young seal swimming above the South Island seaweed
community (near Christchurch).
f026437: playing with seals can be daunting, because the
bull seals are so big and fast, and threat dsiplays are part of the game.
Biting the diver's fins is also part of the fun.
f026433: a young seal rests at the surface, onserving the
photographer while thinking how to surprise him next. Their aggression
displays include sudden attacks with bursts of bubbles, fin biting and
f026432: by the time the seals are getting used to divers,
the cold water becomes too much and humans must leave to warm up. Our moments
with them are just too short.
f027113: a young seal swims circles around a snorkel diver
who appears so clumsy by comparison.
f035005: Seal pups challenge the danger from surging white
water, drawing the snorkel diver into their games.
f217327: four seal pups and one mother seal have hauled themselves
onto a prominent rock.
f217326: the smallest seal pup was also our favourite, but
she was jealously guarded by her mother, which made our encounter more
f217330: the largest of the seal pups already started behaving
like a mature bull, demanding the best spot and defending it ferociously.
f217331: four months old bull seal.
f035021: The snorkelling experience - meeting eight little
f035020: An awesome experience. The seal pups are waiting
in a sheltered cove of the reef.
f035502: Seal pups silhouetted while playing.
f035027: Two seal pups silhouetted while playing.
f035014: Snorkeldiver meeting seal pups.
f035013: Almost close enough to touch.
f035012: With much patience, the seal pups will eventually
make very close passes. On occasion they slapped us from behind with their
f035011: a seal pup seeking eye contact.
f035224: Mother seal comes for a look. Always making eye
f035223: Mature female seal closeup.
f027110: silhouette of a mature bull seal.
f035035: Seal pup flying upside down.
f035517: Two seal pups playing. The top one is 'little sis',
being pushed and pulled by her larger and stronger bullying cousins.
f035521: The youngest seal pup was also the most inquisitive.
After nibbling and suckling my fingers (whoa), it investigated what my
skin is made of : hands of soft skin, a wristband of towel material and
a rubber suit covered in cloth. How strange! Immediately his mates wanted
to do this too, but they were rather rough.
f027106: a large lion seal bull moves cautiously through
shallow water, pretending to ignore the photographer who is less than two
metres away. These animals are frighteningly large and strong. (near Dunedin).