Suiting up with seals in Tasmania

 

The sea is unusually calm; the glassy surface watched over by dolerite sentinels that guard the southern coastline of Australia. White-bellied sea eagles nest atop bare trees nearby, while red-beaked sooty oystercatchers stomp about the entrance to the Devil’s Kitchen, an impressive sea cave off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania.

Beneath the surface, the chatter of crayfish makes a fascinating soundtrack. Golden straps of bull kelp dance with the current; translucent ctenophores float aimlessly past my mask. The water is cold. Icy rather. We are, after all, in the Tasman Sea, an often turbulent place that merges into the Southern Ocean.

The temperature calls for a dry suit but the chill is long forgotten when I arrive with Wild Ocean Tasmania to a seal colony off rugged Tasman Peninsula. Company founders and passionate environmentalists, Damian Connor and Susie Buetow are showing me the underwater world of long-nosed fur seals. We pull on masks and snorkels and descend to find a wondrous place of play.

 

 

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