Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Seal Rocks ferry sees more than seals

Once daily during fine weather (and up to four times a day when tourist numbers peak over summer) the Seal Rocks ferry crosses our span of Western Port Bay on its way between Cowes and Seal Rocks on the western tip of Phillip Island.

The main attraction is Australia's largest fur seal colony, and while moored in calm water, visitors can watch seal pups frolicking in the shallows; adults basking in the sun or lazing about on slippery black rocks; and males squabbling for territory. Congregating in numbers exceeding 10,000, they are an impressive sight with their dog-like faces, soulful eyes and their strong musky odour -- never forgotten!

On the way to and from Seal Rocks (a two hour round trip) passengers on the modern catamaran see Phillip Island's scenic north-west coast, and sometimes sight a white pointer shark (that love nothing better than a meal of seal pup!) or even a whale or two. The Seal Rocks colony is an important seal breeding area and nursery. About 5000 seal pups are born here, every year. Using satellite technology, transmitting devices (glued to the backs of bull seals) have obtained important information about their feeding habits and movements throughout Bass Strait and Tasmania.

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