One of our goals whilst in the Kent Group was to sail to Judgement Rocks and South West Island. These isolated islets some 10 nautical miles to the west of Deal Island in Eastern Bass Strait, have a reputation for attracting Orcas. We did not see any, but were however greeted by hundreds of Australian Fur Seals.
These are rowdy, noisy, inquisitive and fun animals to watch. They have established a colony on Big Rock in particular, with its large sloping slabs, perfect for slithering in and out of the water. Large males can be seen at the very top of the rocks, dominating their harem and keeping a watchful eye on intruders. You wonder how they can manage to climb up there.
As we approach, the seals bellowing sounds like a mix of dogs, cows and sheep calls. The stench on the lee side of the island is unbelievably bad! Fur seals are incredibly good swimmers and move effortlessly through the water. The same cannot be said of their movement across the rocks where they use their four flippers in a variety of gaits and waddles to move at speeds from a slow walk to a fast gallop.
These endearing and gregarious beasts are superb swimmers and can dive to 150 metres searching for fish and squid. But before jumping in with them to join the fun, note that they are large carnivorous animals with big teeth and thick whiskers. Females can weigh around 100kgs, and the big males can weight up to 360kgs.
After circumnavigating Judgement Rocks and South West Island, we set sail back to Deal. Lunch underway of champagne and prawns is an indulgent treat on this brilliant day.