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Date:7/25/2014 10:36:19 AM
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Victoria (cont'd)
One of Victoria’s most stunning natural features are The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. The site is a popular tourist attraction. The apostles were formed by erosion: the harsh weather conditions from the Southern Ocean gradually eroded the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which then became arches, which in turn collapsed; leaving rock stacks up to 148 feet high. The name of the site sticks despite only ever having nine stacks. Our cameras get a lot of use here. What a gorgeous place.

We head next to see the Little Penguins which are the smallest species of penguin. Little Penguins have several common names; they are also referred to as Fairy Penguins because of their tiny size. Like those of all penguins, their wings have developed into flippers used for swimming. They typically grow to 12 to 13 inches tall and usually weigh about 3½ pounds. The head and upperparts are blue in colour, with slate-grey ear covers fading to white underneath, from the chin to the belly. The flippers are blue, and the feet pink above with black soles and webbing. Galaxy and Verona are waddling about like the penguins. Oh my goodness, Sam and Hercules are doing the same. My family!!! Naturally, I take pictures of them all.

Like most seabirds, they have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years, but there have been very exceptional cases up to 25 years in captivity. Little Penguins live year-round in large colonies, with each individual breeding pair forming a burrow in which to raise their chicks (of which two are born at a time, usually about 2 days apart). Little Penguins typically return to their colonies to feed their chicks at dusk. The birds will tend to come ashore in small groups to provide some defense against predators which might pick off individuals one by one. In Australia, the strongest colonies are usually on cat-free and fox-free islands. We are fortunate to have been given special permission to visit here. A viewing area has been set up at the Phillip Island Nature Park where we watch the nightly "penguin parade". Lights and concrete stands have been erected to allow us to see but not photograph the birds interacting in their colony.

We head back to the ship, knowing we will be pulling out of port in a few hours. There are pics at the bottom of my page. Soon we will experience yet another adventure.
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