As Fur as the eye can see

Cape Cross Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 12 › view all entries

Travelling north towards the Atlantic coast we visit the Cape Cross Seal Colony where between 80,000 and 100,000 Cape fur seals bask in the sun or swim playfully in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.The coastline of Southern Africa is the only place in the world where you can find Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus, or the Cape Fur Seal. They fight, mate, reproduce and fish in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, home to the largest breeding colony of these seals on the planet, with at times up to 210,000 seals present during November and December. But it hasn't always been a cacophony of bleats and barks filling the air.

In 1486, Portuguese seafarer and explorer, Diego Câo, erected a padrâo, which is a stone pillar topped by a cross, establishing his country's claim to the territory.

He was searching for a sea route around Africa to India. The cross became a landmark and an important 15th century navigational aid known as 'The Cabo de Padrâo' and eventually Cape Cross in English.

Two years into the voyage, and after planting the padrâo at Cape Cross, the crew returned home without their captain who had disappeared into thin air. All of the documents relating to his expedition were lost in a fire and the search continues to find his whereabouts. Archaeologists working on separate projects believe he may have ventured into what is now Spergebeit NP, as they have uncovered gold coins and other clues.

The seals are natural indicators of fish stocks in the ocean. If the fish stocks are healthy, then the seal numbers are high. If the fish stocks are poor, then the seal numbers will be low.

The seals are quite big, an average male weighing-in at anything up to 187kg (501 lbs). The females give birth to a single pup around late November to early December. Black back Jackals and Hyena can be seen preying on Seal Pups.

After our visit we head inland, passing the majestic Brandberg Mountain (2,573m and the highest point in Namibia) as we enter the southern part of Damaraland. This afternoon we see the Bushmen paintings and engravings at Twyfelfontein. The massif of Twyfelfontein contains a spectacular record of the rock art of the Khoisan people, painted and incised into the sandstone of the mountain over a thousand years. 

v10 says:
You must thank your lucky stars that you arrived at Cape Cross after the daily harvesting exercise. Not a pretty sight.
In order to fill a contract for seal skins, about 100000 seals are clubbed to death annually (about 250 every day!) with the blessing of authorities. The contract runs till end 2019.
Posted on: Jul 03, 2012
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Cape Cross
photo by: Biedjee