Play behavior

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One of the most positive and emotional dives you can experience is diving with cape fur seals near Cape Point, South Africa.

You can meet seals in harbour and everywhere near the shore,  but there are several places where you can find them with a guarantee. Ten minutes boat drive from Simon’s town will bring you to the rocks, where seals live, play and relax. Seals have a strong fish smell, so they don’t seem to be very cute from surface. When you enter the water, seals start approaching you. It’s hard to define is it adult females or young males.

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Underwater seals behave quite the same as dog pups – they play, swim around divers, scratching their ears while hovering in the water. After a while they become bolder, come closer and closer, start to bite gopro, strobes and even fingers. It’s a perfect example of play behavior which you can observe in wild animals. It’s definitely the same as dog pups do, so I think the seals we meet were mostly young males. Adult males are large and aggressive, it would not be so easy and fun to dive with them, but didn’t shown any interest in us and stayed on the rocks.

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Sometimes seals bite diver’s hood and start to pull it. At first it looks a bit dangerous, like you gonna be eaten right now and right here. But then you realise that it’s harmless play behavior, not the aggressive one. So when you will see another breaking news about horrible and aggressive seals attack divers, do not believe it. They just like you, so they bite your head!

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Facts about cape fur seals: They live both in Cape and southern Australia, such population division is not very likely for seals. Also, they both feed on sharks (small inshore sharks and pelagic blue sharks) and being shark’s food (great white shark).

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Meeting seals underwater brings a lot of positive emotions. Their playful, interactive and kind behavior is something unforgetable. Fairly speaking, I love seals more and more. My next plans include walruses, elephant seals, steller sea lions and leopard seals… Don’t think ill of me!

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What fears the ocean’s top predator and who is the biggest carnivorous fish?

 

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Great white shark was one of the main targets in our South Africa trip. I was lucky, as always – the orcas have arrived to False Bay a week before us, and all the Great whites and cowsharks were gone. Do I love orcas? Yes I do, but not when they cause problems with the sharks! Such stories happen from time to time in several places in the world, including Australia and New Zealand. It’s pretty obvious for me who is the ocean’s top predator. Great whites always avoid the orcas.

So, we had a plan to meet great whites in False Bay, there weren’t any so we went to Gaansbai. This is the bay where you can always find great whites, which are the main touristic attraction and the main city-forming factor.

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But let me describe the process and the sharks. It was my first encounter with the great whites, and it impressed me a lot. The viz was something like 2 meters, so watching sharks from surface was not the worst option, but I spent the most time in the water. The guys begin with chumming, and when the sharks are there, they start to attract it closer to the cage by dropping and pulling a rope with a tuna head, which is considered to be the most delicious food for sharks.

Great white shark is a massive and fat fish. It swims slowly to the bait, but when grabs, it starts to fight in attempt to tear it off the rope. This fight is very impressive when you are inside the cage and you can see and feel how the shark hardly hits the cage with it’s body and tail, with a feeling of a sledgehammer. Sometimes it suddenly appears from the murky water following the bait, with it’sl primal fury and great power. A breathtaking scene.

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Despite the local sharks are not the biggest great whites (3-4 meters comparing to 6 meters-long giants in Guadalupe island), it’s much more impressive than any other shark I’ve seen before, because you can feel it’s great strength and power, same as in twisted spring ready to strike. That day we saw four sharks near the boat, which was unforgettable. 

The video is not as cool as you can film on Guadalupe, but it gives you the feeling of the process of being inside the cage.

BTW, did you know that great white is not the biggest carnivorous shark, as many people think? The first place is held by the legendary Greenland shark with a result of 7,5 meters. The same sized smalltooth sawfish is the biggest carnivorous ray. Comparing to this fishes, the great white is not such a giant.

National property

National property

Africa is full of wildlife. This is a white rhino, which is considered to be the national property and protected in most African countries, and South Africa is not an exception. Africans love rhinos, but some of them love money more and become poachers. Every poacher tries to grab a part of rhino’s horn and sell it to China. The horn powder costs a lot in Chineese black markets, because somebody still believes in it’s magical power for improving man’s potency.

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Chineese black markets have brought many animal species to the edge of extinction. What do you think, which punishment would poacher get for an attempt to kill national property? Would it be a couple of years in jail and a fine of several thousand dollars? The right answer is death. If rangers of national park or other protected territory meet a poacher, they have right to kill him. Africans are very good in protecting the world where they live.

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Portrait: Blue shark

Portrait: Blue shark

 

First of all, this sharks are actually blue, this is not an effect of blue water. This tiny sharks are very curious, they push everything with their noses, trying to find out what is it and is it edible. Small and brisk, they try to swim through your gear hoses, under the arm, everywhere. I would say that this sharks behave pretty much like small devils. In the begging of the dive we usually had 2 sharks, to the end you can count much more.

Being underwater with this sharks you are always busy with brushing them aside, and when the first shark is gone, you immediately get another one appearing somewhere over your shoulder or near your face. And all the time you need to care about taking pictures! Sometimes sharks were stuck while biting the bait rope, so our divemaster Brocq had to release them from it. We had a lot of fun with this cute creatures!

Blue sharks, South Africa

Blue sharks, South Africa

 

South Africa is one of my favourite places to visit, here you can find a great variety of wildlife everywhere both on surface and underwater. South Africa is also one of the world’s best places for offshore diving with blue sharks, so we went to see some. For diving with this sharks you have to stand 2 hours of bumpy ocean, while boat is driving away from the shore.

Experienced guys know: we need to find a circular current, where the water is warmed up to 20C and jellyfish are swimming around. Then you start to chum sharks and jump in for the new adventure!