Nights on seal survey are amazingly interesting (counting seals, creating bioluminescence, watching Enrico do charades, looking out for sharks, and wondering if the southern hemisphere is ever going to get its seasons right). Nights on seal survey are amazingly cold, too. And having people forget to bring sleeping bags certainly does not help.
In spite of the cold, the latest seal survey was thoroughly enjoyable as the sea was calm and there was much to see. As expected, there were several groups of seals leaving the island in a hurry and heading for the sea in order to forage (or do whatever seals get up to after sunset). Their speeding through the sea, bobbing in and out of sight does make counting them rather difficult, but as one of the other interns put it: just imagine that every time you leave your house to go grab some food, a group of huge monsters is going to be sitting right next to your front door, desperate to take a big bite off you. Small surprise these seals are pretty fast.
As the first shift of seal survey was drawing to a close (as was the supply of crackers and the interns’ capability of staying awake much longer), a Southern Right Whale showed up right next to the boat, inspecting it with what probably was something akin to interest. Worried that the whale might decide on taking a closer look at the funny creatures seated within, knock the boat over in the process, and potentially hurt itself, everyone started hitting the motors since whales are known to be very sensitive to noise. The whale disappeared beneath the waves and was not seen again that night. A much smaller whale, however, was lingering near the harbor later the same night.
It might have been yet another seal though. A rather big one.
On more shark related news, some of the bigger sharks seem to have returned to Mossel Bay by now! We hope to start tagging as soon as the southern hemisphere has finally succeeded in getting its seasons right, which is to say as soon as weather conditions are good enough to find a sufficiently large shark.