09/07/2014

Rob

I was quite excited to learn that we had a resident seal living around the island when I first arrived in 2012. Keen on making him part of the family I felt that naming him would be the next logical step and why not introduce a bit of my own language in my new foreign home. With more than enough water for the christening I named him ROB (the Afrikaans word for a seal). There was no objections from the bench so ROB was henceforth to be called ROB.

Being a keen fisherman and surfer back home in Southern Africa the Cape Fur Seal was no stranger to me. I have also visited Cape Cross on the Namibian coast on my overland safaris, which is one of the biggest seal colonies in the world. Therefore I had accumulated hours of observing them. I know that the females vary in size and are generally somewhere between the size of a spoilt border collie and a hungry Rottweiler. The males are a bit more prominent, probably like a Rottweiler that just ate a border collie.

It was clear that Rob was in a league of his own. This guy was huge; no dog breed will come close, maybe a juvenile hippo but definitely no dog. I would not want to spend a Saturday afternoon cuddling him in a Jacuzzi.

Well Rob stuck around for our 2012 stint on the island and we saw him often around the small island on the southern side which was clearly his favourite hang out. This was also my favourite fishing spot and Rob was always around, coming very close to the jetty and I was spoilt with good sightings and one way conversations. As far as the fishing was concerned I could only hope that Rob was doing better than I was.

On returning to the island for our 2013 season we were welcomed back by no other than Rob himself. We soon realized that there was now also a Robette and a Robbie around which was very exciting. Soon we had plenty of pictures of our resident seal family, even a great underwater one taken by our friend and yoga teacher Evie. We noticed distinct white markings on their bellies and thought it to be a good time to search the world wide web for more info.

To our surprise we learned that we are hosting the second rarest pinniped and one of the most endangered mammals in the world with less than 600 individuals left. The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus) is present in parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean waters around the Tropic of Cancer. This species of monk seal grows from approximately 80 cm long at birth up to an average of 2.4 m as adults. Males weigh an average of 315 kg and females weigh 300 kg, overall weight ranging from 240 to 400 kg. They are thought to live up to 45 years old; the average life span is thought to be 20 to 25 years. This is no place to bore you with useless information though but if you are keen, please follow this link should you be interested in learning more about these special creatures:

I once took our little speedboat out and was bobbing about just north of the island when I saw 2 of our friends hunting for fish together. This was a spectacular display of nature’s ability to surprise. As big and clumsy as they might seem, they were moving with the grace of dolphins, jumping out the water at great speed, clearing their whole bodies and then back into the water again only to fly out 20 meters further in about 3 seconds. This went on for about 10 minutes and I started to tire on their behalf. After picking my jaw up off the hull of the boat I headed home trying to figure out how I will explain what I just saw......well I guess I don’t need to, I was privileged enough to witness this and that’s enough for me.

Rob is still around this year but we don’t see him as often as we did in 2013. I am not sure what the reason for this is but am keen to find out. Maybe he just found love somewhere else, he is a pretty handsome fella after all.........