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Imagine getting up close and personal with these puppy dogs of the sea.
Jervis Bay Seals  Jervis Bay Marine Park has two colonies of Australian Fur Seals – Steamers Headland south of the      bay is the longest established haul out area and more recently Drum and Drumsticks north of the bay.

The seals are usually here all year round but for divers and snorkelers they only usually get to interact with these playful creatures during the months of May to October. This is when conditions are ideal for boats to get outside the heads of Jervis Bay NSW South Coast and make their way up and down the coastline. Australian fur seals are very inquisitive creatures and generally when the boats pull up at the haul out sites they lumber down the rock face where they sun themselves and splash into the water towards the boat.

Once you are in the water and descended you don’t have to go far before seeing these graceful puppy dogs approaching sometimes at speed, however they always veer off at the last-minute making it quite a thrilling experience! Seals like to mimic so to get the best interaction with them twisting and turning and standing on one’s head gives the seals something to copy allowing you a close and personal view. Quite often groups of seals are seen lying on the surface of the ocean with a fin up in air like a “sail” this helps to cool them down when they are feeling too hot. This is great if you are snorkeling because you get a great view whilst the seals are stationary and if they do decide to go for a swim they usually hang out between the surface and 15 metres so you still get to splash about with them.
Playful Australian Fur Seals

Here are some interesting facts about these inquisitive creatures of the sea courtesy of The Australian Museum
The Australian Fur Seal is the largest fur seal found in Australian waters.
Identification
Fur seals have large eyes, a pointed face with whiskers and sharp teeth. The Australian Fur Seal, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus is the largest of all the fur seals. It has a broad head, pointed snout and long backward sweeping facial vibrissae (whiskers). The body is robust and covered in thick brown layered hair except on the front and back flippers. The Australian Fur Seal is sexually dimorphic (males and females are visibly different). The males are larger than the females and when mature carry a dark mane of coarse hair. They have a set of carnivore-like teeth similar to those of a large dog or bear. Like all members of the Family Otariidae (Fur seals and sea lions) they can raise their body onto their front flippers to move around on land.
Size range
Length: 135 cm – 227 cm; Weight: Males: 218 kg – 360 kg; Females: 41 kg – 113 kg
Distribution
The Australian Fur Seal has a relatively restricted distribution around the islands of Bass Strait, parts of Tasmania and southern Victoria. They can be seen hauling out (coming ashore) on islands off South Australia and areas of southern New South Wales such as Montague Island and Jervis Bay with the occasional animal appearing as far north as the mid north coast of New South Wales.
As it is closely related to the South African Fur Seal, its populations worldwide are reasonable secure although it is occasionally commercially hunted in South Africa. In Australia it is fully protected although its numbers are probably still only half those of the historic pre sealing days. It continues to be vulnerable to disturbance at its breeding sites and suffers some loses as a result of conflict with commercial fishing operations.
Seals at Drum and DrumsticksHabitat
Australian Fur Seals frequent coastal waters and oceans. Their preferred habitat especially for breeding is rocky islands, which include boulder or pebble beaches and gradually sloping rocky ledges.
Feeding and Diet
Australian Fur Seals feed on a variety of bony fish species plus squid and octopus. They are voracious and skilful hunters in the water and are not adverse to taking advantage of situations where fish are corralled by nets and fish farms.
Other behaviours and adaptations
With its streamlined shape and strong flippers, the Australian Fur Seal is an agile swimmer and can dive to depths of 200 m to catch fish and squid. Despite its cumbersome appearance, it is also quite mobile on land, even over rocky terrain.
Fur seals differ from other seals (true seals) because they have external ears and the ability to use all four limbs to move across land. Also, fur seals have two layers of fur while other seals have only one layer.
Mating and reproduction
Australian Fur Seals come ashore each year and form breeding colonies. The adult males come ashore first and establish territories. Females congregate within these areas and are defended by the resident male often with considerable aggression towards the females and other males. Females spend most of the gestation period at sea, coming ashore just before the birth of a single pup (sometimes two) between October and December. Females generally mate again 6 – 10 days later.
The Australian Fur Seal has what is referred to as ‘delayed implantation’, which means the fertilised egg remains dormant for some time before implanting and resuming development. This ensures that the pups will always be born in summer when chances of survival are highest because of the warmer weather and abundant food supply.
The pup population suffers a high mortality rate in those first two months of life especially when the mothers are away at sea feeding. Pups are weaned at four to six months old but may still remain with the mother for a further six months or more.
SealConservation Status
During the 1800s the Australian Fur Seal was heavily hunted for its coat and the population dropped from several hundred thousand to only 20,000. Entanglement in discarded fishing gear is also a threat. All Australian marine mammals are protected and the Australian Fur Seal population is making a recovery.
Classification
Species: pusillus doriferus
Genus: Arctocephalus
Family: Otaridae
Order: Pinnipedia
Subclass: Eutheria
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Kingdom: Animalia

Want to know how much fun it is to dive with seals…click to find out

 

10 Top Kayaking Spots in the Shoalhaven NSW

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Kayaking in Jervis Bay

The waters of the Shoalhaven are paddling heaven with it’s extensive network of rivers,         estuaries, lakes and beaches. The world is a gentler place when viewed from a kayak or SUP skimming over some the cleanest water on the planet and exploring natures best kept secrets.

We’ve listed 10 local kayak spots to check out when you are in the Shoalhaven – however with over 109 beaches and 1000km of coastline along beaches and waterways, you’re sure to find your own favourite.

 

  • Kangaroo Valley – Tallowa DamShoalhaven Gorge: day paddle or overnight camping upstream along Shoalhaven Gorge (still-water paddling) 3hour paddle into Sholhaven Gorge
  • Bendeela Campground – Bendeela to Tallowa Dam
    A great two day paddle, camping in the bush. Lots of wildlife including wallabies, kanagaroos, wombats as well as beautiful kingfishers and sea eagles.
  • Berry – Broughton Creek
    Car park – Back Forest Road, near Bolong Road – Beautiful paddle up and down Broughton Creek, lovely views of the adjacent farm lands.
  • Shoalhaven Heads – Wharf Road or River Road
    Still-water kayaking within closed Shoalhaven River or along river to Greenwell  Point. Approx 8km to Greenwell Point.
  • Currarong – Shores of Jervis Bay
    Pack a lunch and explore the local marine life, sea cliffs, beaches, bays and inlets around the scenic coastline of Currarong. Launch your kayak directly from the park for your ocean experience or a short drive to Honeymoon Bay to experience Jervis Bay.Inflatable kayaks
  • Shoalhaven River Nowra – Grays Beach Boat Ramp
    Enter water on north-west of bridge, for kayaking up or down stream. Nice quiet area to paddle is Nowra Creek, (Ben’s Walk area) under suspension bridge.
  • Callala Bay – Shores of Jervis Bay
    Boat ramp or end of Sheaffe Street. Parking approximately 10 metres from waters edge at both locations. Still-water kayaking on Jervis Bay. Good chance of dolphin sightings.
  • Vincentia – Shores of Jervis Bay
    Church Street off of Elizabeth Drive, paddle in the protected southern corners of Jervis Bay.
  • Plantation Point – Shores of Jervis Bay
    Plantation Point off Plantation Point Parade. Option of paddling in the protected cove or paddle out around the point in the bay.
  • St Georges Basin – Bay and Basin
    Basin View boat ramp or Island Point Road. Kayak on St Georges or head up Wandandian Creek. A large water way with great paddling and fantastic bird life (black swans, pelicans, sea eagles, herons, egrets, plovers, small wrens and parrots, turtles in summer along with the amazing fishing.

Kayak MapBicSup2013-Soft3-HRbk2013_mosaiquewebsite_bilbao

Dive Travel in Bali

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Bill diving BaliBill and I have just returned from Bali, touring the island and getting some dives in along the way. Our first couple of dives were in Tulamben diving the USAT Liberty and the Drop Off. The USAT Liberty is 120 metres long and was an American supply ship during World War 2. Having sat on Tulamben Beach as a non functioning useless hull it was pushed into the water in 1963 when Mount Agung erupted and magma flow dislodged her into the sea. The wreck sits in a depth of 3 to 29 metres and is done as a shore dive.Julia diving Bali

Marine life is abundant – schools of trevally, bream, fusilier, and anthias mill over and around the wreck, often following you during the dive. Batfish, large sweetlips, angelfish, butterfly fish and anemome fish hover under ledges and crevices. Lion fish, scorpian fish, hawkfish, butthead parrot fish, pufferfish, and coral trout are everywhere – as are the gobies, blennies, shrimps. The wreck is simply alive with life; corals, sponges and gorgonia fans are breathtaking along with the thousands of invertebrate live within them.

The next lot of diving we chose to do was out of a small village on the south coast called Padang Bai. This is where a lot of operators run their boats from. We dived with Water Worx owned and operated by David whom we first met in Bali 15 years ago. We did six dives over three days all from  boats which are easy to dive from. Tasty bunkos lunches were provided between dives along with Bali Kopi. Dives sites included Nusa Penida, Gilli Mimpang, Gilli Teppekong, Manta Point and Crystal Bay. Bali has a great mix of drift dives, walls, drop offs and the occasional up current and down currents to contend with. It can be very exhilarating but also dangerous if you do not go with the local guides who know how to read the waters.

Manta Rays at Manta Point BaliWe were entertained by Manta Rays at Manta Point funnily enough and extremely lucky to see Mola Mola (Oceanic Sun fish) this made up for the 21 degree water temp whilst diving in a 3mm steamer! The thing to remember when diving in Bali around August is that water temp can be on the chilly side so if you are using your own wetsuit make sure its a 5mm or use a 3mm with lots of Lavacore layers!Bali diving

Bill and I enjoyed our Bali time out and it was great to catch up with old friends whom we first met over 15 years ago and amazed that we were still remembered by local dive guides and stall holders who hadn’t seen us for seven years – the Balinese have incredible memories! Anyway next time you are in Jervis Bay and want info on where to stay and dive in Bali have a chat with Bill or Julia

Feather Stars

10 Sensible Snorkelling Tips

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  1. Anyone can snorkel, some as young as two years of age! Visit your local dive and snorkelling centre for advice on how to get into this fantastic pastime. Find out the best place to go for the safest snorkelling conditions of the day.You can snorkel as young as two year old.
  2. Ask the dive/snorkel centre if they hire mask, snorkel and fins – if it is your first time snorkelling it’s sometimes better to hire the equipment. You want to make sure you enjoy it before spending money on your own mask, snorkel and fins.
  1. Never go snorkelling on your own; the safest and most enjoyable way is to do it with a friend. If it’s your first time snorkelling find out if the dive/snorkelling centre run any organised programs such as snorkelling safaris. This way you will get some great tips on what to do.
  1. You’ve been out for a snorkel, had the best time ever and want to go again next weekend. Think about getting your own equipment so it’s in the garage ready to go when you are.
  1. Not sure which mask, snorkel, fins to get? Talk to your dive/snorkel centre, they can explain the differences between brands and prices. They will also make sure you are fitted properly for mask and fins to ensure the gear you get is the best for you!Snorkeling Jervis Bay
  1. Now that you’ve bought your own snorkelling gear you want to make sure it last’s, so look after it properly – rinse in fresh water after each use and leave to dry in the shade. Prolonged exposure to UV rays will perish the materials used in the equipment.
  1. Having problems with your mask fogging up on you, even though you prepare it properly – spit onto the inside of the lenses, wipe the saliva around, rinse and place straight onto your face! Next time try rubbing some white toothpaste on the inside of the lens for 2 or 3 minutes then rinse. Then do the “spit” thing and enjoy a fog free snorkel trip. If your spit just doesn’t work you can get commercial anti-fog to keep your mask free from fog!
  1. So…. Your pretty confident now going from the beach snorkelling and checking out all the great fish life. How about being more adventurous and booking onto a boat snorkelling trip with the local dive/snorkel centre. It’s a great way to see beautiful Jervis Bay Marine Park and go to sites that are only accessible by boat.snorkelling safe and fun
  1. Snorkelling is great all year round; even in winter, when visibility is usually at it’s best. You get to see different types of fish and marine life, compared to summer. Learn about what you see, most dive/snorkel centres have fish ID Books and slates, being knowledgeable about the environment you are visiting makes your snorkelling excursions even more interesting. Extend your snorkelling season and look at getting a wetsuit to keep you warm and comfortable on those brisk winter days. A wetsuit is also great for sun protection through summer.
  1. You’ve mastered all the snorkelling skills and enjoy duck diving down a couple of metres to take a closer look at that friendly Blue Groper but you want more…. Think about joining Dive Jervis Bay for a Discover Scuba Diving experience and see what it’s like to stay underwater for longer than a breath hold.

GreatBarrierReef_snorkelling   Duck diving at the Nursery Jervis Bay NSW boys-snorkel-marine parks

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