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Pups of Phillip Island

Australian Fur Seal pups are now nearly three months old, the age when they start venturing away from the safety of the rock pools at Seal Rocks. The rock pools play an important part in the early development of the pups, providing them with a safe place to swim and climb, so they can navigate the rocky landscape.

As the pups become stronger they will keep pushing their boundaries by trying out the ‘deep end’! They may do this deliberately, or by accident as the surge washes them off the rocks. Pups can be seen to attempt to climb the rocks, slipping and sliding off the seaweed-covered rocky slopes. Whilst they generally have to just toughen up and learn it themselves, the lucky few may have their mum nearby who can intervene where necessary.

It’s not uncommon to witness a cow lift their pup by their teeth and fling them onto the rocks with one clean sweep with the head. The ones too weak to get back on safe grounds can be washed away, making this time a real test of the ‘survival of the fittest’. It is estimated that less than 50% of the pups survive their first year.

Predators are taking advantage of this and you would have a chance of spotting Orcas in the nearby waters. Pacific Gulls and Kelp Gulls are also opportunistic feeders and can be seen eating the remains of washed-up pups.

As the stronger pups fine tune their swimming and climbing skills, they are also getting more curious about their environment; they play with seaweed, tearing the tough strands with their sharp teeth, chase other pups and play-fight, and approach vessels to have a closer look. The pups are completely dependent on mum for a feed, so for now it really is just playtime!