Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seal pups die in heavy seas: Phillip Island

Gale force winds and frequent rain squalls have whipped the bay into a frenzy, with seal pups the victims.

The Seal Rocks colony, located on the north-west tip of Phillip Island is Australia's largest fur seal colony. It's a vital seal breeding area and nursery with around 5000 seal pups born every year. Inevitably there are casualties. Weak pups often wash off the slippery black rocks in heavy seas and drown; and there is nothing a white pointer shark likes better than a meal of seal pup.

At this time of the year it's common to find dead seal pups washed up on our beaches.

Occasionally an injured bull seal will come ashore too, and die. The injuries are usually horrific and caused by fighting over females and territory. When a bull seal dies on the beach, the smell can be so overpowering that the Phillip Island Nature Park has to either remove or bury the carcass. The dead seal pups smell too, but quickly absorb back into the ecosystem of the coastal fringe.

Congregating in numbers exceeding 10,000, the seals at Seal Rocks are an impressive sight with their dog-like faces and soulful eyes. Their strong musky odour is a smell never forgotten!

Apologies re. photos. I'm having computer problems!

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