Swim with the seals at Gabo Island
Home to the second-tallest lighthouse in Australia, Gabo Island is a place that not many people have had the pleasure of visiting. Even fewer have been lucky enough to get under the water here, and with this 360-degree video you can experience diving here with playful Long-nosed Fur Seals.
Did you know? Long-nose Fur Seals can be distinguished from Australian Fur Seals by their smaller size and darker colouration with a more sharply pointed snout.
A unique seascape
This rocky, windswept granite island presents a unique landscape, including the contrasting colours and textures of pink granite against the sea and its vegetation.
Extensive outcrops of pink granite, wide basalt intrusions, coastal slopes, boulder beaches, cliff top dunes and a sandy beach signify the island’s uniqueness.
Beneath the water lie large granite reefs and walls, and deep sponge gardens which provide shelter to many fish species, sea stars and sea anemones.
This area also once supported extensive forests of large brown kelps but in recent years many of these important habitats have been eaten away by invading Black-spined Sea Urchins that can be seen on many of the walls in the video. Urchin numbers are increasing across eastern Gippsland due climate change as warming sea temperatures increase their chances of survival.
What are we looking at?
When they’re not basking in the sun on the rocks surrounding Gabo Island, these seals frolic, play and hunt in the surrounding ocean including the nearby Cape Howe Marine National Park.
Long-nosed Fur Seals (also known as New Zealand Fur Seals) are native to Australia and New Zealand and a protected species, which means that you can look at them but you can’t touch! The species was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s for their warm coats used in the fur trade. Their number have recovered in many areas across its range, including in Victoria, and there are now estimated to be about 80,000 in Australia.
Did you know? Fur Seals are named for their two-layered fur. They have an outer layer, and a super-fine dense undercoat that helps their skin stay dry and their bodies warm in cool water.
Long-nosed Fur Seals share these waters with Little Penguins, dolphins, whales and the occasional lucky human diver. Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales pass through this area on their annual migration. Each year they head south to feed in Antarctic water then again on their northern migration to calve in tropical areas. Killer Whales and pods of Bottlenose and Common Dolphins are also regularly sighted from Gabo Island.
Did you know? Long-nosed Fur Seals have a very diverse diet which can include fish, squid, octopus, crustaceans like crabs and rock lobsters, and have even been known to eat penguins.