South African Fur Seals Hitching a RideSaturday, 26th December 2020
By Lloyd Edwards
These much maligned marine mammals never get much interest on our Facebook posts. Maybe it is just because they are very smelly and not as cute as dolphins, whales and penguins. This day however we found them in such an unusual pose that we spent a long time with them.
We arrived at St Croix Island in our two catamarans and were discussing the route home. Jake smiled and told me to take a closer look at one of the ships waiting for refueling which he had passed on his way to the islands. We headed straight for the ship and were amazed at what we saw. Sometimes there were up to four seals sitting on the bulbous bow! This odd shape protrudes from the front of the ship just below the waterline when it is loaded. It modifies the water flow around the hull, reducing drag and thus increasing speed and stability. It saves plenty of fuel and thus increases the range. I guess little did the designers know that it created the perfect resting place for a tired seal!
One wonders how they managed to get up onto something that was so high out of the water. There was quite a big swell running that day and if you look at the third image you will see how low the ship can dip between swells. The last photo shows an old bull seal sitting on a ship’s rudder in front of the manganese ore birth.
South African Fur Seals Hitching a Ride
This make an ideal place to rest in between foraging bouts . . . safe from the great white sharks who patrol nearby. The seals feed on bottom dwelling fish like sole, electric rays, stingrays and skates in about 30 metres of water.