We spent an awesome half day on a “seal and ocean expedition” with Wild Ocean Tasmania. An absolute must if you love to view wildlife in an eco-friendly way, want to contribute to wildlife conservation and still have an amazing time on the water, enjoying the dramatic Tasmanian coast line.
Wild Ocean Tasmania is a very small local organization, ran by Susie and Damo – who are clearly very passionate about giving back to nature and doing their part in the conservation of Tasmania’s unique fauna and flora.
You start the experience by putting on a warm fleece onesie, followed by a drysuit. Although the drysuit is at first somewhat uncomfortable around the neck area (the rubber needs to sit closely around your neck to avoid any water from sipping in), you get used to it very quickly and you will be thankful for it as soon as you get into the ice cold water. And you can leave the upper part of the drysuit hanging around your waist, up until you need to get into the water.
After Susie had given some insights into what will be happening and put our stuff into a waterproof bag, we got into the van and up to Pirate Bay. We met up with Damo at the boat, where another top coat was waiting for each of us, just to be sure we wouldn’t get cold.
Seals, here we come!
After getting comfy on our seats in the boat, we lifted off, gliding along the cliffs, getting a first glance of seals in the water and drying up on the rocks. The view from the water is even better than from the top of the cliffs.
Hanging with seals
After about 30 minutes we got to the group of seals we wanted to study. Got our drysuits all the way up and zipped, got snorkeling gear and then stepped onto a kind of matrass in the water. The idea is not to disturb these seals and therefore actual snorkeling/ swimming around them is not the way to go. By lying on the matrass (4 at a time) on your belly with the upper part of your body hanging in the water, you can look at the seals both above and under water in a way that doesn’t scare them. Of course your head and hands get wet (and cold!) but that’s it. You soon forget how cold the water is when the seals start playing around, swimming and twirling up to you, under you and then back.
Enjoying the dramatic views
We got to spend about 20 min in the water and then moved out for the second group to get their turn. After they were done, we got some black tea and a protein “ball” to get the stomachs filled again, before continuing our adventure.
We headed further into the water, searching for dolphins, other seals, sea birds and perhaps even whale (although it was not the time of year when we went). We were extremely lucky to be surrounded by what looked like an army of dolphins. They were all around – we didn’t know where to look first. We also saw 3 types of albatross, cormorants and other seals being playful in the water.
After a while we headed back to the shore, getting close to some of these natural bridges into the rocks. Now you really get a feel of how big and impressive these cliffs really are. Then it’s back to Pirates Bay and then with the van back to the Wild Ocean Tasmania’s HQ’s. We got up there around 1pm, as was stated in the program upon reservation.
A final surprise awaits upon arrival: Suzie showed us a small pademelon wallaby which she has been raising after an incident with a dog chasing its mother. Suzie and Damo are continuously involved in initiatives like this and involving all kinds of wildlife like wombats, penguins, etc.
After getting a cute T-shirt stating “Fat wombat, no flat wombat” (referring to all the road kill that is going on in Tasmania), we closed this unforgettable morning and were happy to do our (very small) part in wildlife conservation. But as Damo says: it’s about the small things each of us do, so there you go.
- If you get sea sick (easily), take precautions (eat upfront, take a motion sickness pill, eat again as soon as you’re back on the boat and when the sea gets rough: stare at the mountains, so you don’t see the boat going up and down). At the time we went it was apparently pretty “quiet” on the water, and that was rough enough – so just saying…
- Take your GoPro with you! Plenty of opportunity to get these amazingly cute animals on video
- Take your photo camera (with zoom lens) too! You don’t know what other beautiful creatures show up. You can put all your stuff away in a dry bag
- For additional donations go to the Wild Ocean Tasmania website.
Price: 390 AUD for two