Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wildlife Adventures - Otago Peninsula

I took a wildlife tour with Elm Wildlife Tours, a guided tour of the only albatross colony on land (inhabited land) a shag colony, a fur seal colony, a sea lion colony and a blue and yellow-eyed penguin colony. It was an afternoon of awesome sights!

Albatross are not easy birds to view, especially this time of year when most are out at sea. A real sea bird, albatross spend most of the year literally living out on the sea. They are the world's largest sea bird, with a wingspan of up to 3 meters! Very cool! We saw only a couple pretty far out with the aid of binoculars.

The spotted shag colony is quite cool because during breeding times their faces take on an iridescent green sheen. You can't really see that with the pictures I took, but I promise it was cool. As we were looking out to sea at one albatross that was sitting in the ocean, we saw the unmistakeable spouts of whales in the distance. It was really cool! But that was the extent of what we saw of the whales.

Shag Colony

Afterwards we went to a private sheep farm on the edge of the Otago Peninsula. This farmer has the distinct luck of having colonies of seals, sea lions and penguins on his land! He's agreed to allow people like me go out there and view these animals in their natural environment through the Elm Wildlife Tours company. It was really cool. Some pics!

Cute as!

Playing dead! I really thought it was dead for a while because of the awkward position it was in, until it finally moved. Thank God! I was getting worried! Apparently fur seals have really maleable bones and can be comfortable in the most awkward of positions.

Taken through the binoculars. Pretty cool, huh?

Yellow-eyed penguins are the rarest penguins in the world. They are also very shy and very private penguins. They nest up in the brush, quite different from other penguins.

Isn't it cute?
Then we encountered the sea lions! Wow! This one below was yawning. Too bad it didn't come out clearly but pretty impressive nonetheless!

Here he is posing (in fact he is going to the bathroom and we were subject to this "private" moment). Didn't seem to bother him too much!

I was less than 2 meters away from him!

Below: a little vid of this young sea lion.

Evening on the beach. Ahh....peaceful.

A yellow-eyed penguin coming home for the night

Below: coming home

All coming home

Below: a love match or a territorial dispute?


Anonymous said...

Lovin the penguins! Super cool video in this entry. And can I say that beach is close to my dream location ... Id buil a small house, fish and chill with the penguins!


L said...

I agree with you there. Except that you can't feel the cold by watching a video! If it could be tropical weather and still have the penguins, then I'd be set. You would freeze your butt off in this temperature!