Thursday, March 28, 2013

The seals are back!

The days have been rapidly getting shorter as the season draws to a close, meaning our opportunities for boating are getting more and more limited. The chances of the weather being nice and cooperating during the narrow widows that we now have available are getting slim, but a couple weekends ago everything aligned and gave us a day of breathtakingly perfect weather on our day off.

This was to be a mandatory boating day, a day when it's so beautiful that you are effectively required to go
out on the water.

 
Home sweet home.
Usually most of the wreck of the Bahia is underwater, but tides this low bring it out.

Most of the penguins have left for the season, and the seals have moved in. Most seals, with the exception of Elephant seals, spend their summers feeding elsewhere, but as the days get shorter and colder they move into our area to spend the winter.

CUDDLE PUDDLE!

The fur seals were the first to arrive, and they're personally my favorite. Energetic, curious and active animals, they'll swim right up to the boat to check you out and figure out what you are.

HI GUYS WHAT'S GOIN' ON?
I HAS FEETS.



And they are ADORABLE. They share so many of their mannerisms with dogs; their barks, their personality, everything about them reminds you of a giant playful puppy that just needs to be pet.






I wouldn't recommend it though, fur seals can be pretty aggressive. They're highly territorial and have charged people when on land, sometimes without provocation. So as cute as they are, it's best to keep your distance.


Holy smokes are they beautiful animals.


Crab-eaters are much larger, but still incredibly cute in their own way. Not nearly as hyperactive or mobile on land as the fur seals, they're not as aggressive either, and for the most part will completely ignore you unless you're just a few feet away. And at that point, the most you'll get out of them is usually a glance and a yawn, before they go back to sleep.


 


Docile as they may be, I still don't think I'd want to make them angry.
*snore*

Ah yes, feets.  Feets are a good place for sleeps.

Not many Elephant seals left at this time of year, most of them have headed off to wherever it is that they spend the winters.  Mostly they come here during the spring and summer to breed and raise their pups, and once that's done they take off.  They're probably the most docile of all the seals, I've almost tripped on them occasionally because they're so easygoing on land that they don't even notice you most of the time.  Elephant seals aren't too bothered by anything that's smaller than them, and that's not much.  Even this juvenile is far larger than the full grown fur seal.

See, we CAN all just get along!

But these aren't the only seals that have returned . . . no, we also have the Leopard Seals returning.  One of the fiercest predators on the whole continent, they can best be described as s grizzly bear that swims.


They're not as outwardly aggressive as fur seals, because when you carry a proverbial stick this large, you don't have to be.  Anyone who doesn't respect you will learn their lesson very quickly.


Don't let the cute face fool you, their jaws are enormous and powerful enough to crush almost anything they can fit in their mouth. Besides the spotted coat, the most obvious physical characteristic of the Leopard seal is their gigantic head.

UGH HOW CAN YOU BE SO FEROCIOUS AND LOVABLE AT THE SAME TIME?

Aside from the influx of seals, there's still a few of our favorite critters wandering around.  Mostly juveniles, guys that for whatever reason haven't built up the gumption to head out to sea on their own yet.



Other birds are making their presence known as well, feeding on the last of the big krill blooms of the season.

We stretched the boating hours to the absolute limit, as we knew that our days of this sort of weather were likely numbered.  Winter is moving in now, bringing with it the clouds, rain and soon snow.  But this day was good enough to bless us with one last brilliant sunset.