Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cruising Walvis Bay

After a brief, fog-induced pitstop , we made it to Walvis Bay, one of the relatively few estuaries in Africa. The bay hosts myriad birds, including Greater Flamingoes, Black Oystercatchers, Swift Terns, and, our favorite, Great White Pelicans. These pelicans are absolutely ginormous, with beautiful pink and yellow on their faces. A wonderful bird.

Thousands of fur seals also live in the bay. Most of them live their lives in the usual fur seal way -- basking on the beach, hunting for squid and fish, and barking at intruders. But eight of the seals have figured a way to get extra fish from the humans. We met four of these fur seals -- Robbie, Fluffy, Sammie, and Google. Robbie, who hangs out at the main dock, has learned to jump up into the tour boats in return for free fish. So tourists gets to pet a 100 kilo fur seal before they even leave the dock. The other three live somewhat more normal lives -- hanging out on the beach with the rest of the fur seals. But they come over when the tour boat pulls up. Fluffy (who is, inevitably, enormous) and little Google both jump up into the boat to get free fish. Surfing Sammie (in the photo) has a different strategy. Instead of coming into the boat, he surfs on the prop wash just outside the transom. You might wonder how you get the fur seals out of your boat. Well, it's pretty easy. Toss a handful of fish over the side and then hit the gas once the fur seal jumps over the side.

There is a slightly Sea World feel to these performances. But the fur seals are charming, and it is fascinating that only a tiny fraction of them have adopted this approach to free food.

Bonus photo: A wreck in Walvis Bay.

No comments:

Post a Comment