The Good, the Bad and where to go from here

A storm wave rolling in at Eaglehawk Neck.
A storm wave rolling in at Eaglehawk Neck.

Wow – 2020 – a year that is going to go into the history books. It rolled over us like a storm wave, just that nobody saw it coming. Scary yet fascinating at the same time!

Bushfires and Wildlife Rescue

It started with the widespread bushfires on the Australian mainland. Many people felt the impact of those ferocious fires and lots of wildlife had to suffer. The fires kept burning for a long time. This year, Tassie has been spared, which was a big relief as we experienced some major fires the previous year, during the summer of 2018/19. It was heartwarming to witness an amazing act of kindness and solidarity as the world responded with numerous donations for people and wildlife in need! From knitted pouches to money donations, people from all walks of life wanted to do their bit to help injured and orphaned wildlife. In fact, so many boxes of wildlife supplies have been received, that the surplus was distributed to wildlife carers in other areas not affected by the bushfires as well.

A Wallaby joey in a donated pouch.
‘Sunny’ the rescued Pademelon joey in his donated hanging pouch.

We also received a few hanging pouches and liners this year and are very grateful for the donations. Here is our rescued Pademelon joey ‘Sunny’ trying out his new hanging pouch. You can see how much love went into making these beautiful pouches! And Wombat baby ‘Danny’ seems to like his cozy new pouch as well. 🙂

A baby wombat in a donated pouch.
Baby Wombat ‘Danny’ in his new and warm pouch.

Tourism drop but Whales all Summer

Of course, due to the fires many people were forced to stay at home and travelling was highly impacted. Most tourism operators could feel a drop in customer numbers this summer. This didn’t stop us from enjoying some Ocean time with smaller groups and we got so spoilt this season!

A Humpback Whales tail.
A Humpback Whales tail.

We saw whales literally all through summer! This has never happened before. Generally, we see the Humpback Whales migrate from Antarctica past our coastline on their way north to warmer waters between the end of September and the end of December. We have seen the odd late arrival in early January in previous years, but no later than that. This year was very different. In fact, the local cetacean researchers asked us to take them out to show them the Whales, because they couldn’t believe what we reported. Some of the whales have made Tasmania their home over summer. A lot of food had been accumulated about 2-3 nautical miles out to sea, especially around the area of the Hippolyte Rocks.

The back of a Humpback Whale before it dives.
The back of a Humpback Whale before it dives.

So whenever the weather conditions permitted, we headed out to look for the whales and usually found them feeding, often surrounded by playful seals that made the most of the unusual visitors.

Hungry Albatrosses above a bait ball.
Hungry Buller’s Albatrosses and a Shy Albatross in the background.

Because of the abundance of food, a variety of other marine life got attracted to the area as well. Hungry Albatrosses would fight over the food from above a bait ball and seals and dolphins were feeding on it from underneath.

Dolphins and Seals feeding on a school of fish.
Dolphins and Seals feeding on a school of fish.

And then came COVID-19

After a very different summer season, we were getting ready for the Easter tourist groups. And then COVID-19 hit everybody unexpectedly. Case numbers went up, states locked down and – like so many others – we had to stop our operations and cancel all upcoming bookings.

Young seal pups having their first swims in the rock pools.
Young seal pups having their first swims in the rock pools.

The period between the end of March to early May is usually one of our favourites, since it is generally the time when the little seal pups get all adventurous and start hitting the water to have their first swims. It’s such a privilege being able to watch them with their big puppy eyes and oversized flippers slide via the bull kelp off the rocks and into the rock pools!

4-month old seal pup underwater.
4-month old seal pup underwater.

Lucky us that we were still permitted to launch our boat at the local jetty to head out for some ‘Ocean Therapy’. But it’s just so much nicer to share it with likeminded Ocean frothers and animal lovers! 🙂

A baby seal resting next to its yawning mum.
A baby seal resting next to its yawning mum.

After all that exercise, the little seal pups quickly get tired and climb back up onto the rocks to have a well deserved sleep next to their mumma.

A sleepy seal pup.
A very cute and very sleepy seal pup.

Easing of Restrictions – So where to go from here?

The good thing about the whole lockdown was that finally the planet had a chance to breathe. It’s never been so quiet on the Tasman Peninsula, there has been less roadkill and mother nature got to do its thing.

Black and white aerial photo of Tasman Island.
Tasman Island with no boats in sight.

What if 2020 was the year we’ve been waiting for? A year to stop. A year to slow down. A year for change?

The whole world is set up for consumerism and Nature is paying for it. The recent bushfires and the COVID-19 outbreak are a strong reminder that we are part of nature and depend on it. Things will have to change if we want to ensure a future for the generations to come.

Ultimately, we believe change happens with us and our actions. People can make a difference, with the choices they make on a daily basis. What do we want to spend our money on? Who do we want to support? How do we want to spend our free time? Do I really need this?

Tasmanian Forest
Sunset behind our Eucalyptus forest.

We are aware of our impact and actively work hard behind the scenes to give back to Nature as much as we can. Since the start of our tiny and humble business in 2015, we’ve now raised over 30 wildlife orphans and released them back into the wild. Our focus with our wildlife tours lies on an ethical interaction with the wildlife – no animal gets chased or forced to interact with us. We protect a 20 acre Eucalyptus Forest from logging which serves as habitat for wildlife. We donate to activist groups like Sea Shepherd, to help them protect marine life worldwide. We closely work together with marine scientists to help them with the gathering of data which is necessary for the conservation of wildlife. Our ‘office’ is a solar powered second hand shipping container. Of course, our tours are single-use plastic free and vegan-friendly. We downsized our motors to use less fuel – and the list goes on.

But we want to do more. Maybe we should also slow down a bit more. Maybe we should offer less tours and spend more time on growing plants. Maybe we could incorporate a more holistic approach to our ‘experiences’ and help people reconnect with the Ocean – the basis of life – the wildlife and also the food that we eat and grow. And maybe we can facilitate change or help find ideas for change for those who choose to travel with us. There will be some changes to our operations for sure.

For now, we offer our 2-hour Coastal Adventure tour only. Departure times depend on the weather conditions and our guests preferences. Our online booking system is currently closed, because our availability now depends on travel groups (i.e. families, friends, singles) to maintain social distancing and keep empty seats between passengers. So please contact us for booking enquiries. With the winter Whale migration underway, we should get some awesome Whale encounters again over the next few months. And if the Whales don’t show up on a tour, there is so much else to soak in along our stunning coastline. The Seals are always there, dolphins usually not far behind and the cliffs light up beautifully in the late afternoon when the sun is about to set.

We can’t wait to welcome you onboard!