Seal showing off with a shark

A Day on the Bay: Seal and shark

Date: 8 October 2012

Ark Rock (or Noah's Ark)
Ark Rock (or Noah’s Ark)

It’s usually Tony that spends a lot of time on the bay, driving the boat to dive sites, waiting on the boat for divers to surface, and just enjoying the great wildlife spectacle that is False Bay. I hadn’t dived for ages, and on a Saturday in early October when the opportunity arose, I was ill. I stayed on the boat with Tony, and got to experience some of what happens while I’m usually under the surface.

The divers first got into the water to play with the seals at Ark Rock, in the shallow water in the wind shadow of the rock. The seals were mostly juveniles, leaping in and out of the water. There was brisk traffic of seals leaving and arriving the site, as well as large numbers of cormorants roosting on the rock.

Cheeky cormorant dips his head in the water
Cheeky cormorant dips his head in the water

One cormorant swam over to the boat and spent some time inspecting the motors. He duck dived under the boat a few times and came up on the other side. He also pecked Tony on the hand when it became apparent that we had no bird food on board!

Tony on the boat
Tony on the boat

The second dive was at Shark Alley. The divers didn’t see any cowsharks – none had been seen since mid September. It’s not known whether they moved away to mate or forage for food. In fact, shamefully little is known about these sharks. While the divers were in the water we noticed a large seal thrashing about, attended by a huge flock of birds. Reminded of the battle he witnessed between a seal and a spearnose skate, Tony moved the boat across to take a look.

The shape of a shark is clearly visible
The shape of a shark is clearly visible
Seal showing off with a shark
Seal showing off with a shark

The seal had a dead shark, probably thrown overboard from one of the many fishing boats that was out on the water that day. The shark was large and seemed heavy, and the seal was struggling a bit to keep it near the surface. I didn’t get a good look at its dorsal side, but from its shape and white belly we guess that it was a blue shark, maybe 1-1.2 metres long. The seal showed off for a bit, played the great hunter, and smacked the shark about. On the way back we found some interesting things to look at at False Bay Yacht Club. Never boring!

Two pieces of a catamaran waiting for assembly at FBYC
Two pieces of a catamaran waiting for assembly at FBYC

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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