Wildlife update 4: Seals / by Jerry

The Fur Seal pups were starting to be born as I departed for my enforced break, so I missed a good amount of seeing them small and cuddly. When I returned they'd started to shed their black puppy hair and develop the sleek grey fur that will keep them warm in the water. They'd also begun to be left alone more as their mums headed out to sea to feed, returning full of milk to help their pups grow big. Before leaving many of the mums take their pups up the slopes, finding somewhere safe to leave them and somewhere they can return to find them again.

Curious young pup,

Grumpy blondie pup.

That's the theory anyway. It seems as soon as many of the mums leave the pups go exploring, heading back down to the beaches to meet up with other pups for playing and fighting (often indistinguishable) and later on heading into the shallow waters and rock pools to have a go at swimming.

Splashing down the stream in heady anticipation of some fun in the sea.

Seeing them charging round the small pools, chasing each other or wrestling with bits of kelp is hugely entertaining. It's like they've just discovered what their flippers are for, discovered what it is to be a seal. At this time they're both very curious and a bit nervous, so will come and investigate anything unfamiliar, such as a person or a camera, but will quickly turn and swim off once they feel unsafe, usually returning a minute later for another look.

Fighting with a bit of kelp.

Fighting a friend over a feather.

The goal; to be so good at swimming you can lie on your back, scratch and yawn while doing it.

Investigating the underwater camera in a small pool.

As with the birds, weighing the pups on specific dates is a simple way to get an idea of the health of the population that can be compared to previous years. This is done three times through the year and by the third occasion they're pretty big, quick and feisty. With the heaviest nearly 20kg it can be quite a task, but a good one that ensures everyone gets muddy together.

Three mud-spattered puppy-weighers.