Cornish Seal Sanctuary

I can’t really explain why most of the posts I’m currently putting out have a wildlife theme. It just seems to be one of those things. A lot of the images I’ve been working through in my archive lately have been animal related, and the small amount of new stuff I’ve actually shot recently has been animals (including my cats, which are the nearest things I have to photograph a lot of the time). When I decided to dip into my archive to edit a set of photos and selected the ones from my trip to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary during my Cornwall holiday last year, I didn’t make the wildlife connection until I sat down to write this post itself. I should probably point out that there’s at least one more big wildlife post in my archive I need to edit, but that contains a few thousand images from my 2012 summer holiday and so we won’t be seeing those that soon (I’ve still got plenty of images from Cornwall to get through as well, on that note).

On our holiday in Cornwall last summer, my wife and I decided to dedicate one of the days to a big Cornish road trip, getting up early from our base in Tintagel and heading out as far as we could (to Land’s End) and working our way back over the course of the day. On our way we visited the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, a rescue centre and wildlife attraction that’s home to seals, sea lions, otters, penguins, and some other less aquatic animals.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

If you’ve read many of the posts on this blog you’ll know I’m not that great on identifying species, often even the ones that most would think easy to differentiate. Not for me, they aren’t. No idea at all. Even when I do get it right its without any confidence. So you’ll have to take it with a pinch of salt when I say that the animal in the image above is a seal. If it indeed it is a seal, it certainly seems a content one, drifting through the water with a very serene look on his face. This seemed to be something that many seals like doing.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

The sanctuary had different tanks for different species. As most of the animals were also rescued from somewhere they would be put in individual tanks when they first arrived, which we saw on occasion, like this… sea lion, maybe?

1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 60mm
1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 60mm

Not all of the animals were so energetic, of course.

1/1000sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 72mm
1/1000sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 72mm

The water caused problems from time to time. For a start it often didn’t look clear (the image two above with clear blue water has been tweaked a bit). Other times the reflections meant the seals weren’t that visible in the water. Enter monochrome.

1/500sec, f/5, ISO 100, 57mm
1/500sec, f/5, ISO 100, 57mm

Although sometimes the murky-coloured water juxtaposed the blue of the tiling at the edge of the pool, the seals’ skin, and their interesting (and possibly illness-induced, if I recall) eye colour.

1/160sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/160sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

Sometimes, however, just dulling the colour a bit made for a different mood.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

I can’t remember what the deal was with this guy, if he was old or sick, but he always looked like an aquatic version of Eeyore.

1/3200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/3200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

Like many such places, the sanctuary puts on feeding shows for people to see the animals getting some dinner. This wasn’t the sort of place that made them do tricks for it either.

1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm

The main problem the feedings had was the seagulls, who had learnt that seal feeding time meant a decent chance of grabbing something for themselves.

1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 45mm
1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 45mm

Still, the greedy, thieving seagulls couldn’t take the smiles off of the seals’ faces.

1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 106mm
1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 106mm

It also helped that a single bit of fish could distract up to a dozen seagulls at any one time.

Stupid seagulls.
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 20mm

It was quite cute seeing some of the other seals waiting by the water’s edge for their lunch.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 120mm
1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 120mm

Although the waiting usually paid off.

1/320sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm
1/320sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 135mm

With the feeding over, some seals went back to swimming about.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 69mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 69mm

Others, however, were evidently still hungry.

1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 67mm
1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 67mm

Next, we went to see the sea lions (probably) getting fed. Their tank was much larger and had water-level viewing pods to get an interesting view.

1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm
1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm

This viewpoint, however, allowed me to get a more abstract shot as they swam about disturbing the water.

1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm
1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm

It was a bit cramped for space whilst we were down there, and the glass was a bit mucky, but it allowed me to get a different perspective on things and do another ‘shoot the photographer’ picture.

1/125sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm
1/125sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm

The sea lions (if that’s what they were. Seriously I’m not sure) also shared their tank with some penguins, who also got a feed.

1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 106mm
1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 106mm

They also knew how to work the crowd.

1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 42mm
1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 42mm

From the viewing pod we were at we could get a view of some of the other pods, which also made for some different sights.

1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 48mm
1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 48mm

(They also made for an interesting shot photobombed by a penguin)

1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 48mm
1/200sec, f/5, ISO 100, 48mm

And also an interesting angle on the tank.

1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm
1/320sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm

After the penguin feeding we headed down to the otter shed where we saw them being fed.

1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 135mm
1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 135mm

Unlike the seals, who were fed fish, the otters ate chicks, which was a bit weird to see at first.

1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 135mm
1/125sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 135mm

They looked really cute, even as we were being told that they could easily bite your finger off if you got too close.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 79mm
1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 79mm

The final part of the day was the feeding of a sea lion currently still in his own tank. He was such a friendly animal and seemed pleased to see us (although that arrival might have been something to do with the fact he knew he was about to be fed, of course).

1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 72mm
1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 72mm

He was also keen to show us presumably how the sea lion got its name.

1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 67mm
1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, 67mm

Then he decided to go for a swim.

1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 320, 18mm
1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 320, 18mm
1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 320, 41mm
1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 320, 41mm

And then he went back to posing.

1/1000sec, f/5, ISO 320, 55mm
1/1000sec, f/5, ISO 320, 55mm

Just down from all of the water tanks was a petting zoo containing an assortment of farm animals, including a sheep and a classic billy goat.

1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 31mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 31mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 37mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 37mm
1/500sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm
1/500sec, f/5, ISO 100, 24mm
1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 100, 26mm
1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 100, 26mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm
1/800sec, f/5, ISO 100, 18mm

Our visit to the sanctuary completed, we continued our road trip, heading towards Lizard Point and the most southerly part of the UK. That, however, will have to wait for another post.

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CreativeSplatLongBlackVertical
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Zebras, Giraffes and Rhinos, Oh My

2 Comments

Add yours →

  1. I love the opening shot and the group of seagulls in a circle a classic

    Like

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