Saturday, February 7, 2009

Little And Large

We don’t often see these across our path while walking near Puivert. The picture does not give a good impression of the size of this sea lion. This beast is a bull and probably four or five times the size of the sea lions you see in a circus clapping and oinking for the punters. I estimate it weighs at least 200 kgs, possibly 300.

We are spending a week in the Catlins, which is the area of New Zealand bottom right, as you look at a map or a globe. A very quiet area, not a city in sight, the nearest being Dunedin, 100 kms north, or Invercargill, 100 kms to the west. Invercargill hosts the southernmost Starbucks in the world.

We are staying at Kaka point, at Cardno’s accommodation. Lyn and Selwyn Cardno have two motel units attached to their home. We have been here twice before and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stay in the area. The accommodation is excellent and the Cardnos are most friendly and welcoming. They have become good friends.

More details of Cardno’s accommodation can be found at their website:

If you travel south from here you will need a boat with a reinforced bottom and some clothing with built-in heating, because you will end up in Antarctica. If you head east you may nudge the tip of South America before you arrive back in New Zealand, but nothing else will impede your progress. If you walk west along the beach, you will have to dodge a few seals and sea lions and also hop onto the road a couple of times to avoid rocky areas before you arrive at Nugget Point lighthouse. Selwyn’s great-grandfather used to be in charge of that, but it is all automatic these days.

The walk to the lighthouse and back is 20 kms and I have done that every morning straight after breakfast. Gay has set out with me every day and has ventured further each time, before turning back for “home“. Yesterday and this morning she did the whole walk with me without any ill effects, so presumably her full recovery has coincided with the end of the course of antibiotics, which seem to have done the trick in getting rid of the cough and debilitation.

This is a great area for watching seals and sea lions, numerous types of seabirds and penguins. It is also superb for getting in a lot of exercise with minimum interference from traffic.

Another thing we have seen on the beach for the first time is krill. These are tiny creatures, like shrimp but much smaller. We see them scattered along the high water mark and marvel that these are the main food of the giant whales. A blue whale, which weighs about 100 tons, has to eat huge quantities of these per day. I can’t remember the figure, but it is probably over a ton per day of krill, which must be untold numbers of the creatures. Surely it would make more sense for the whales to eat a couple of sea lions per day?

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