A Visit to Cape Cross Cape Fur Seal Colony
Thursday’s fun began with a visit to the Cape Fur Seal Colony, the largest breeding colony of fur seals in the world. During the breeding season in November and
December, there may be up to 210 000 seals at Cape Cross. Lucky me, I got to visit at just the right time! OMG! The chaos! The cries! The wonder! Amazing stuff. As always, I am a lucky gal!
The females fur seals breeding in synchrony once a year, fishing in the nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela Current. They feed, cool off, then returning to
shore to find their offspring amidst thousands of young pups. It’s a risky business, and if they don’t birth a dead pup or the tides change suddenly or the weather changes abruptly, they still have to brave killer whales and copper sharks in the water where they feed. Back on land they also have to fear black-backed
jackals that prowl the edges of the seal colony looking for an opportunity to scavenge, while under cover of darkness brown hyaenas also haunt the beaches. ls
They mate with the male bulls 7-10 days after giving birth, and delay embryo development for about 4 months so that they can come here and give birth the same time each year. Below I’ll show you the “happy” pictures first, then below the line break I’ll show you the “full” picture–if you don’t mind seeing the un-sanitized part of life, the real version of what it means to be a part of the natural world–life, death, mating, fighting, etc. Enjoy!
And now for the “real life” section:
One pup had just been born as I arrived. note the wet looking pup and the placenta still attached to the mother.
There were also lots of dead pups lying around, with seagulls eating their fill.
Remnants of a seal
And pup bleating away for their mothers…it was disconcerting on a primal level for me. I am sure there was some order to the chaos, but for me it was strangely unnerving hearing all those pups wailing away.
If you ever get to Namibia, the Cape Cross Cape Seal Colong is well worth the ~$17 you’ll spend to get in. Just make sure you go in November or December is you want to be there for calving season.