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Seeing penguins, sting rays, and fur seals – some of them I swam with!

March 24, 2009 · Print This Article


Part I:  The Seals

On the boat in Abel Tasman National Park, we roamed up to the beginning of the track, slowly but surely. As we turned the corner, we saw a cove and in that cove were some baby fur seals and some fully grown ones. In that cove, I began to wish I could be in the water with them swimming. Just a little bit later, my dream came true.

As we hiked up to Separation Point, we saw the lighthouse down some steps. We started walking down those steps, but to our left we noticed a man swimming in the water off the rocks. Then I spotted some seals around him, only adults this time. I thought, lucky guy to be able to go in that freezing cold water. Then dad just announced, “You want to go swimming with the seals over there?” And I said, “I’ll try.” So I did try.

We stripped to our underwear (our bathing suits were in our packs back at the track junction). After many attempts to get into the coldest water you can ever imagine, I went in. And then I was swimming with seals! One of them swam a foot in front of dad and me, swimming under water. Then a big guy jumped in from the rocks and started swimming towards us. He was a little further away from us than the guy who was under water, and he popped his head up three feet in front of us and he looked his big black eyes straight at us. That was soooooooooooooooooo awesome!

A few seconds later, Mom and Ainsley hopped in with us. Even they were in just underwear! Eliot took a few pictures. Now that’s the end of my first story.

Part II: The Ray

After feeling the warmer water at our last hut, I felt like swimming at the end of our four-hour hike the next day.  I got my chance when dad said he would come down to the water’s edge with me. It was in an estuary. It was just past low tide with the water starting to come in.  There was only water the size of a big river in the middle of a huge sand flat (it took twenty minutes to cross the flat at low tide).  When dad and I got to the water’s edge, I got in the water.  It was freezing cold just like at the seals!  “Man,” I said myself, but I was still trying to swim.

A few minutes later, I was in water up to my chest with a big current, when a few feet in front of me I saw a sting ray sail past me.  Three feet in length and at its widest spot the wing span was about two feet.  It looked like it was flying under water, just like they say penguins do.  Then it was gone.  It went past in about a second.  My reactions didn’t react in a second, but in the next few seconds I was out of the water and blabbering to dad about what I had seen.  When I got back to the hut, I was talking all about it.  It was just so cool.

Two days later, I was going to see another of those flyers under water.

Part III: The Penguin

After we left the hut, we were going to pick up the water taxi from the beach.  We waited a long time, then the water taxi came.  The boat motored for a little while towards Marahau, but we saw no more animals.  Then after we checked some other stops for passengers, we came to a little blue penguin in the water off the side of the boat.  He was so cute swimming along the top of the water, ducking his head down to look for fish.  Though I had seen many other little blue penguins on the Banks Peninsula, this was one of my first times seeing one so close up in the water.  As we went away, I was thinking to myself, “How lucky am I to see all these animals?”  And that’s the end of the story.

p.s. The day before we saw the penguin we went to a quarry near a beach.  There we saw some starfish and some sea urchins.  My favorite starfish was a big blue one and there were lots of other colors of that starfish.  The sea urchins hid near rocks and were about the size of a tennis ball and spiky.  I loved seeing all of these animals in Abel Tasman and I want to come back sometime.  I wish everyone in the world could see these sites.


4 Responses to “Seeing penguins, sting rays, and fur seals – some of them I swam with!”

  1. michelle on March 31st, 2009 7:05 pm

    i’m curious, is the water cold?

  2. John B. St. Clair, on April 3rd, 2009 1:11 pm


  3. Minnie on April 3rd, 2009 2:46 pm

    Hey Jack, You made me feel like i was there experiencing it with you. I love all the pics and the video clip. I think I might have been a little hesitant as well with the seal coming toward me. Di you guys harvest any mussels along the shore. That’s on of the things I remember about the Able Tasman.

    Enjoy your last few days in NZ. XOXO

  4. Nancy on April 10th, 2009 11:46 pm

    that was so COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! e-mail me !

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