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Cape Fur Seals Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus

   
Cape Fur Seals Basking at Cape Cross

A lazy afternoon at Cape Cross

Cape Fur Seal females basking at Cape Cross

Females with richly coloured coats

 

Cape Fur Seals at Cape Cross

The colony is the largest on any mainland. You will find seals there throughout the year. The numbers fluctuate between 80,000 to over 100,000 in breeding season. The Cape Fur Seal is one of the three species of seal common to Southern Africa and colonies can be found from southern Angola to Algoa Bay. Although not classified as being migratory, tagged Cape Fur Seals  have been recorded as having travelled from as far off as Gans Bay (near Hermanus RSA) to Cape Cross. Male Cape Fur Seals are not normally present at the colony during the non-breeding season. Adult males (Bulls) weigh on average 190kg, but when returning to the colony for the mating season which begins around November a large male can weigh in excess of 350kg owing to accumulated fat reserves, much of which can be expended within the six weeks breeding season amongst the members of harems of between 5 and 25 females.

The female Cape Fur Seals (Cows) have an average weight of 75kg and come on land to give birth to a single pup with a few short weeks of the males arriving. Within one week of birthing the pup the Bull mates with the cow. The fertilized egg stays dormant for about 12 weeks before starting to develop as a fetus, so it would appear that the gestation period is about 9 months. Pups are mainly born in the months of November and December and weigh approx 4.5kg - 7.0kg at birth and have a black pelt.

 

Cape Fur Seal showing ear

Note the ear

Cape Fur Seal pup showing black pelt

Pup with black pelt

Cape Fur Seal juvenile snoozing

Taking it easy

Cape Fur Seal Sitting

Who's there ?

 

Cautionary Notes: You will be observing seals in their natural environment and you may find some of the sights a bit distressing. Particularly the numerous dead young-seals during and following the birthing season. It is in these times when the jackals wait for the mothers to calf, and sometimes working as teams, will try to distract the mother while the cub is being kidnapped. Many seal pups are crushed under the weight of shore-side bulls. Young children and some adult visitors can become a bit distressed when seeing this. At Cape Cross there is a low wall separating tourists from the seals. Please take care when approaching not to startle the seals as this can cause a stampede. You will see and hear the constant bleating of young seals that have lost their mothers. After 'putting-out' to sea many will die of starvation. The Namibia coastline is seasonally littered with dead seals. Up to 50% of the pups born do not survive. It is nature, the survival of the fittest, and what a joy to behold those that did 'make it through'.

 

Acknowledgements and further reading: E1, E2, P1

 

Cape Cross is situated 115km north of Swakopmund You need to budget 4-5 hours from the return journey. The site is managed by the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism; Office hours 10:00 to 17:00

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Cape Cross

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Erongo Region

2177'S - 1395'E

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Of Interest: Cape Fur Seals eat approx. 8% of their body mass per day. Young Seals swallow small smooth stones which act as ballast when swimming

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Cape Fur Seal

 
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