A nice mouthful of skate for the seal

A Day on the Bay: Seal vs Skate

Date: 17 July 2012

Roman Rock lighthouse
Roman Rock lighthouse

I witnessed an epic battle between a spearnose skate and a Cape fur seal near Roman Rock lighthouse one morning in July. I first spotted what I thought was a discarded piece of pale plastic floating just below the surface.

What looks like a piece of plastic floating under the surface...
What looks like a piece of plastic floating under the surface…

I moved the boat closer to investigate and possibly to retrieve it, when I realised it was in fact a large skate, floating upside down just under the water. Spearnose skates are mottled brown in colour with a slightly pointy little nose. They are an unusual sighting – I hadn’t seen one before today.

... turns out to be a large spearnose skate floating upside down
… turns out to be a large spearnose skate floating upside down

I stopped the boat to check it out, and a large Cape fur seal appeared and hovered around the skate as if to claim it for his own. For a short while nothing happened, and I thought the skate might be dead.

A hefty Cape fur seal was hanging around the skate
A hefty Cape fur seal was hanging around the skate

Suddenly the skate burst into action, flipping itself out of the water to turn over, and tried to escape from the seal.

The skate tries to escape, but the seal is too quick
The skate tries to escape, but the seal is too quick

The seal was too fast, however, and before the skate got far he caught it in his jaws. The water was churning around them and I didn’t know where to point the camera!

A nice mouthful of skate for the seal
A nice mouthful of skate for the seal

When I saw the seal surface with a piece of the skate’s disc in his chops, I knew it was game over for the skate.

The seal surfaces with a piece of skate in its mouth
The seal surfaces with a piece of skate in its mouth

The seal then proceeded to show off like a plump, furry ballerina for me, twirling about over the skate’s body.

Showing off after having a snack
Showing off after having a snack

I think the seal ate a bit more of the skate after I left.

Some underwater ballet from the seal
Some underwater ballet from the seal

Never a boring day on the Bay!

Published by

Tony

Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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