Walvis Bay, Namibia

‘Sucky’ the Cape Fur Seal

This is our second trip to Walvis Bay.  Last time we headed inland into the Namib Desert and back to the coastal sand dunes.  Today we planned to go seaward on the "Dolphin and Seal Safari".  Things didn't look good when we faced the day.  The fog and mist surrounded us, obscuring our view of almost everything.  Then our departure was delayed by almost a half hour during which we wondered if there would be a tour at all.  But finally we were ushered to our vans which took us a short distance to the Catamaran Charter port.  Still pretty foggy but it did look like it might be thinning out.  

The fun began almost immediately after we boarded our boat.  Our catamaran eased out of the harbor while thousands of cormorants flew by us headed for some watery rendezvous with finned food.  Very shortly we were joined by a visitor onboard.  Sucky the Cape Fur Seal is apparently a regular visitor on our catamaran.  He jumped onboard while we were heading out.  Our guide introduced him and warned us that he was a wild animal and not to think of him as a pet.  He said they had about six different seals that visited from time to time.  Some were not human friendly and others like Sucky had been encouraged (with fish rewards for natural behaviors) to interact with people to a limited extent.  We were also joined by Fritz the cormorant and an unnamed pelican.  Fritz took pleasure sitting on one guest’s head and refused to leave  until our guide fed him a fish and shooed him off.  All were clearly very much at home on the boat and very much loved by both the pilot and our guides.

While being entertained by the critters and our guide and being served coffee/tea and "Namibian Coffee", actually sherry, we were moving out toward the lighthouse which guards the harbor entrance and also marks a fairly large seal colony.  There were a lot of young and adult female seals cavorting (often leaping completely out of the water) and just being seals on the beach.  (At this time of year, the males are farther out to sea feeding to get bigger so they can compete for the females in the future.)

As we had our fill of observing the seal colony we were served beer or fruit juice.  (You know that we can't pass up a chance to try a different beer.  This one was called Taffel Lager.  It was pretty good.

We left the seal colony to look for dolphins as we continued our cruise.  They were not too hard to find and, as dolphins often do, seemed to like playing in the bow waves of the catamaran.  The dolphins were the ones called Heavyside’s or Benguela dolphins, the second smallest dolphin.  The dolphins were frolicking in the water and swimming under the catamaran, where we could enjoy them.   To give you an idea of how decadent this boat ride was, we were both kneeling on cushions at the front rail, with a beer in one hand and our cameras in the other.  

On the trip back to the dock we were served a light lunch, which included several types of hors d’oeuvres and incredibly fresh oysters (possibly from the farms we passed on the way out to the seal colony), along with some sparkling white wine.  

We also saw a seal near a Russian Trawler (fishing boat) who obviously wanted a handout.  He climbed up the ramp in the back of the ship (about 20 feet up a 45º slope).  The men on the ship didn't seem to want to feed him so one of our crew threw a couple of fish at the ramp.  The first went unnoticed by the seal but the second got his attention.  But the fish slid down the ramp.  No problem, the seal followed like he had done this before many times (perhaps he has).  It was fun to watch.

After that we headed back slowly toward the end of our cruise but on the way we had more visitors.  A pair of pelicans and some sea gulls (as well as Fritz) came to see if there might be a spare fish or two around.  Hmmm.  We are sure they have done this before.  There was also another seal who climbed onto the rear platform but was not allowed onto the main boat area.  We were warned that he was not people friendly and not to get too close to him.  The pelicans (Great White Pelicans) perched on the roof of the boat near the pilot who gave them a few fish.  Then some of us were allowed to feed them.  

If you enjoy wildlife encounters, this excursion is well worth taking.  If we stop in Walvis Bay again, it is highly likely that we would do this same tour again.  It was definitely that good.  There are more photos in the album for this section.  Wildlife is abundant everywhere, including on the dock, as you can see from some of the bird photos in the album.

While we were in Cape Town, a Namibian brewer came on board with his family.  He was going to demonstrate how to brew beer, which would be ready to drink by the time we got to Walvis Bay.  Sure enough, during sail-away, we were able to try all three of the beers he had brewed.  While they were not the best beers we’ve had, they were good and they were interesting.  It was a special experience having beer brewed just for us.

More photos in the album.

Great White Pelican

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com