The essence of the Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross
Renowned as one of the largest settlement of these animals in the world, the colony of Cape fur seals at Cape Cross marks the spot where the first European explorer set foot on the coast of Namibia in 1486. Originally marked by a cross erected in honour of the king of Portugal by explorer Diego Cao, the spot just north of the fishing haven of Henties Bay is now home to a thriving colony of more than 200 000 seals.
Attracted by the good fishing provided by the nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela current, the seals congregate on the rocky shoreline year-round, with bull seals arriving in large numbers towards the end of October, ready to fight for their territories and the right to mate with a harem of up to 60 females. The endearing little seal pups are all born in November or December and the shore is covered with a mass of bleating and mewling little bodies. The seal mothers call out for their babies when they return from fishing expeditions, ready to re-establish their bond while nursing their offspring. A variety of other life is attracted to the colony, with kelp gulls skimming the surface of the sea and flocks of cormorant soaring above the waves. Killer whales and copper sharks lurk in the waves, on the alert for unsuspecting youngsters venturing out to sea for the first time, and black-backed jackals and brown hyenas lurk around the outskirts of the colony at dusk and dawn.
Visitors can lose themselves in this noisy hubbub, viewing the captivating interactions of the seal colony from an extensive walkway, separated from the mass of seals by a low wall. Stroll along the breadth of the colony, picking up interesting details about the lives of the seals at information points scattered around the grounds, or gaze up at a modern replica of Diego Cao’s historical cross.