Now that we are staying in Owhiro Bay, we might be far away from the city centre, but we are much closer to nature. So yesterday we decided to undertake a second trip via Red Rocks to the seal haul-out (The first one can be found here and in this post I actually say, as we walk by Owhiro Bay, that it must be nice to live there)
We went to a place called Sinclair Head / Te Rimurapa. Sinclair Head / Te Rimurapa is a haul-out site for male New Zealand fur seals. Up to 150 seals come to rest and feed in winter, between May and August, and their numbers are slowly increasing. Most can be found beyond Devil’s Gate, the cutting through the headland. This area is an old Māori settlement site – rimurapa is the Māori name for the giant bull kelp found on the south coast. Ngati Mamoe lived here, and Ngati Waiponga of Te Atiawa occupied the area in the 1830s. Sinclair Head was classified as Māori Reserve until the Crown took the point under the Public Works Act for defence purposes. The remains of a WWII observation post can be found on the headland. (http://wellington.govt.nz/recreation/beaches-and-coast/southern-suburbs/sinclair-head-te-rimurapa)
As for haul-outs themselves, Hauling-out is the behaviour associated with pinnipeds (true seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses), of temporarily leaving the water between periods of foraging activity for sites on land or ice. Hauling-out is necessary in seals for mating (with the exception of the Baikal Seal) and giving birth (though a distinction is generally made between reproductive aggregations, termed “rookeries“, and non-reproductive aggregations, termed “haul-outs”). Other benefits of hauling-out may include predator avoidance, thermal regulation, social activity, parasite reduction and rest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauling-out)
The day was absolutely perfect for a coastal track walk – sunny, slightly windy, and crashing waves provided a perfect soundtrack and a visual for the walk.
We took our time walking, exploring the beach and taking photos, so it took us about 2 hours to reach the seals. As usual, it was Michael who first spotted them, this time much closer. These seals are all male, they are the ones who didn`t find a mate. There are many more seals here from May to August, but even in the summer there are a few around. They lazed in the sun, swam in shallow rock pools and generally enjoyed being seals. We came as close as we dared, kept away not only by fear of seals lunging at us, but also by a strong fishy smells, which is actually one of the signs that a seal is nearby, as they are so close to spot among similarly-colored rocks. This time we saw seals move around – a couple got into a rock pool and started swimming, another one moved from one rock to another in search of a more comfortable spot.
Beach combing finds – a mysterious bone, kina (sea urchin) shell
An attempt to cool our feet down left my shorts soaking
The house and our lovely dinners with Rebecca that I`ve been cooking (Sunday – Mexican theme with tacos and guacamole, Monday – pizza and corn)
And here is a video we made yesterday: