Seal Island has a few concrete structures remaining on it from prior human use

A trip to Seal Island (part III)

Seal Island
Seal Island

Neglected in all the white shark excitement in my other two posts about the trip I went on to Seal Island on the Shark Spotters research boat were the actual inhabitants of the island… Up to 70,000 Cape fur seals! I think there were closer to 40,000 at the time we visited (winter).

Seal Island has a few concrete structures remaining on it from prior human use
Seal Island has a few concrete structures remaining on it from prior human use

Fortunately the day was windless, so the aroma (or flavour – it’s that strong) of seal was not evident while we were on anchor. When we circled the island in preparation for departing the area, however, we were able to savour the whiff of the natural chum that this enormous population excretes into the waters of False Bay.

Seals low down on the rock
Seals low down on the rock

Adrian told us to look out for seals with red or pink marks, which would indicate a recent encounter with a white shark (unsuccessful, from the shark’s perspective). We also saw one with a green fishing net wrapped around it. These seals are photographed and the net is removed as soon as possible (I can’t remember who does this, but Adrian did mention it).

A seal with green fishing net around its body
A seal with green fishing net around its body

Also in evidence were a number of seabirds, most notably cormorants. There’s a really bad video (taken by me) of Seal Island here. It’s actually quite a pretty place, the vegetative barrenness notwithstanding. The seals are endlessly entertaining, and it’s easy to be jealous of their leisure as they bask on the rocks in the sun… But I do not envy the gauntlet they have to run in order to go out for a meal.

The research boat returns to Simon's Town
The research boat returns to Simon’s Town

The trip back to Simon’s Town was lovely, with rumours of dolphins in the distance, and a mirror-like sea. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday morning, at all!

The research boat at the jetty
The research boat at the jetty

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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