Our trip today was, as Karli put it “some serious National Geographic stuff”. The beautiful full moon that we’ve been experiencing has brought with it a spring tide which resulted in us launching out of Gansbaai Harbour this morning. This is always a welcome change of scenery as it allows us to cover more ocean during our trip and today we could not have been more thankful for that.
We spotted two Brydes Whales early in the trip, feeding in an area with several White-Chinned Petrels, Swift Terns and Cape Gannets. We had what we consider to be a typical sighting of these shy cetaceans, they came up a couple of times before they took deep dives, after which we moved off.
We then hugged the coast around the infamous Danger Point, passing Birkenhead Rock where Karli told the tragedy of the HMS Birkenhead where approximately 400 men lost their lives. Our time here was, however, short lived as this is where we managed to spot the birds. Thousands of them, which can only ever mean one thing, we had hit the oceanic jackpot and stumbled across a bait ball.
A bait ball with birds alone is absolutely awesome, the Gannets dive from a height of 30m and hit the water at up to 80km/h making for a spectacular show but today, we had a couple more creatures added to the mix. As we approached, we noticed a disturbance in the water below the birds and, by disturbance I mean a mega pod of around 2 000 Common Dolphins and what must have been at least 5 majestic Brydes Whales.
Suddenly, we found ourselves in the midst of it all. We were completely surrounded by the dolphins and one could clearly hear the clicks and squeals erupting from below the boat. This was like music to our ears and we all stood in awe of the natural wonder we were able to not only witness, but completely immerse ourselves in. The Gannets were everywhere, some diving whilst others were so full they could barely paddle –which was great for the photographers. The Brydes Whales were lunge feeding which can only really be described as breathe taking. These stunning animals really took the show today, coming up right next to us, at times so close that my lens was too big to fit them into the frame. This sighting left us in such an ecstatic state that it took us quite a while to notice that our mammalian friends were not the only ones around, with a few Bronze Whaler Sharks deciding to join in on the fun. This was epic to see, to say the least as we had 4 of the Marine Big 5 in one sighting. It was also my first time ever having seen a Bronze Whaler on a trip and Karli’s first at a bait ball.
After this, we head towards Dyer Island where we got to release 4 little endangered African Penguins from our African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary including a baby blue. This is always an incredibly special thing to share with clients and once we had watched the last little one swim away, we head towards our seals.
Our last stop of the day was at Slashfin were we got a great view of a gorgeous Great White. After two different shark species, whales, dolphins, seals and 8 bird species checked off of our lists, we decide to call it a trip.