Endemic to south Africa, roughly 2 million cape fur seals can be found residing in large colonies along the coastlines from the southern tip of Angola, Namibia and all along South Africa. They inhabit secluded islands off the coast of South Africa, these provide protection from humans, land based predators and habitat destruction. They get their name from the two thick layers of fur they posses, one soft inner layer and a bristly outer layer, which keeps them warm in the colder waters here. This fur however made them a target for the fashion industry and the fur coat craze but fortunately today because of recent outrage, poaching of cape fur seals is now illegal in South Africa meaning there is a growing population thriving and swimming freely. These charismatic, curious creatures are more than happy to approach divers out in False bay.
Joining the seal snorkel with cape RADD allows you to safely get closer to these animals in their natural habitats where they have their own territories and full control. What I realised is how playful and social these seals are and what a beautiful experience it is to be immersed in nature with them on their terms. Since living in cape town for over 4 months now, snorkelling with seals has been one of my favourite things to do and interning with cape radd has given me the opportunity to do this multiple times, and I can confess it never gets boring. Cape fur seals are considered to be a part of the “big marine 5” you get in false bay along with whales, sharks, penguins and dolphins so being able to swim in close proximity with them is a unique exhilarating activity. They grow between 1.2 and 2.3 meters long and weigh between 35 and 360kgs, it can be unnerving being surrounded by large wild animals however the feeling soon vanishes when you see yourself how unbothered they are by your presence and how happy they are to just be swimming around you. Some interesting facts about cape fur seals is that they prey on shoaling fish, rays, endemic South African shy sharks and invertebrates such as octopus and squid, they consume around 11% of their body weight daily, when diving they can hold their breath for roughly 8 minutes and go down to depths of over 200m. There is a lot to discover about these animals and one of the best ways to do this is by getting up close and personal.
Overall snorkelling with seals is must to tick off your bucket list when travelling to South Africa !