PAGE 8 I LAKES COAST VISITOR GUIDE PHILLIP ISLAND WONTHAGGI INVERLOCH LEONGATHA WILSONS PROMONTORY FOSTER TOORA Observe pups at play at Seal Rocks Seal Rocks, at the south west end of Phillip Island, is home to more than 20,000 seals, making it Australia’s largest Australian fur seal colony. Seals can be seen here year round, with females (cows), pups and juveniles mak- ing up most of the colony. The mature males (bulls) visit the rocks during the summer breeding season. An excellent opportunity to see these fascinating crea- tures in their natural habitat is by embarking on a seal watching cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises. This spectacular two-hour seal watching cruise provides an up-close encounter with thousands of seals, the boat drifting within metres of the seals, enabling you to witness them in their natural environment first hand. With the peak time for seal pup births being mid-December, autumn sees the pups spend a lot of time swimming, diving and practicing prey-chasing, although still staying in groups for safety. As they explore their environment they can be seen ‘playing’ with seaweed, learning to use their teeth to catch and tear prey. The pups’ curiosity to boats is evident as they confidently approach in large pods within metres of the boat. It is impossible not to be captivated by these naturally playful and inquisitive animals, as they regularly approach the boat for a closer look. Cows stay away for longer in search of food during autumn, often leaving their pups on the rocks for up to 10 days. Moulting begins around this time, and while seals can still go to sea and feed during their moult, they spend a lot of time resting ashore, grunting and scratching. Pups have their first moult too, changing their distinctive black fur for a brown-silver coat. Mature bulls have left Seal Rocks by the time autumn comes around, spending more time on various haul-outs in Bass Strait and islands along the Victorian coastline. Along the way, you’ll be enthralled by the beautiful coastline and learn all about the history of Phillip Island’s western shoreline. Wildlife Coast Cruises has more than 20 years’ experience operating cruises and charters around Phillip Island, Seal Rocks, Westernport Bay and Wilson’s Promontory National Park. Call or visit them online for further details. Autumn sees seal pups spend a lot of time swimming, diving and practicing prey chasing.