Despite the 4 – 5 hour drive to Damaraland ahead of us, Steph insisted that we take a 1 – 2 hour detour to see the seal colony at Cape Cross. Cape Cross is north of Swakopmund, part of the Skeleton Coast (named for the many shipwrecks along its shores). Cape fur seals live in large colonies along this coast, including in a colony of 100,000+ at Cape Cross.
We sped up the tarred road along the coastline, with the Atlantic bordering us on one side and the desert on the other. Both the water and the sand extended as far as we could see into the distance.
Pulling into the parking lot at the Cape Cross seal reserve, we did not immediately spot the seals we had detoured to visit. However, upon closer inspection, the rocks dotting the sand turned out to be the sought-after marine mammals. A boardwalk crisscrossed the sand for better seal viewing, but one seal was guarding the entrance and a few had set up camp on the boardwalk itself.
Thousands upon thousands of others were sleeping on the sand, chilling under the boardwalk, and frolicking in the ocean.
Of course, we didn’t just get to see the seals. We also smelled them – thousands of seals living together in a colony emit quite the stench. Furthermore, they are not quietly sunbathing. Seals are fighting for the prime spot on the beach, mothers are looking for their pups, and many are off to go fishing. All of this activity creates an incredible cacophony of sound.
We were amazed by the vast numbers of seals along the beach and in the ocean. There were seals absolutely everywhere. We observed and took photos for as long as our nostrils held out. Only mothers and pups were on shore – the males (bulls) are set to arrive in October and apparently weight 350+ kg. We were close enough to touch many of them, but refrained. They probably aren’t as soft and cuddly as they look, plus we didn’t want to end up with a hook for a hand.
“Loose seal!” – Buster Bluth
Stay tuned for updates from Damaraland – there are ancient engravings and black rhinos here!