Nov 1, 2014

Animal Life in New Zealand

I’d never met an endangered species outside the zoo before, and here in New Zealand I’ve met several. Pictured below are the little blue penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin, a fur seal, and a sea lion:

One evening, my WWOOF farm host drove us to the narrow Otago Peninsula that stretches out into the Pacific Ocean. We took a winding dirt road to the edge of that jut of land, then walked down a steep slope to get a better view of the coastline. The Prof stopped, and looked out at the waves breaking on the rocks.

“How many fur seals do you see?” She started to count, “One, two, three, four…!”

I looked at the same shore, and said, “Zero. Where are the seals? I don’t see anything.”

She pointed down at the rocks. “There’s one right there, and over there," she said.

There was nothing. I told her so.

“Open your eyes! One's yawning and stretching out right below us.”

I looked down and was stunned - so it was! The brown of their fur blended in so well, they all looked like a part of the rocks. Suddenly, I could see.

Going back up the steep hill, we spotted wooden nesting houses with yellow-eyed penguins staring at us, their eggs warm and safe under their bellies. I was dazzled by the beauty of the land, the sea, and the animals that belonged to both environments.

I'll remember the Prof's advice as I continue to travel: open your eyes.

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