Seal spotting during a Seal Island Cruise with Drumbeat Charters

The greatest attractions in Hout bay, one of the most popular destinations on the Cape Peninsula, is a cruise to Seal Island with Drumbeat Charters.

Hout Bay. This lovely fishermen's town, twenty minutes outside of Cape Town, is one of the most popular destinations on the Cape Peninsula. Because of its stunning surroundings and splendid scenery, but also because of the town's wide variety attractions and activities. One of them is a cruise to Seal Island, a huge colony of Cape Fur Seals. Of course, for those wanting to get up-close-and-personal with the mammals, there's a popular seal snorkeling trip courtesy of Animal Ocean to embark on.

Drumbeat Charters is one of the operators in Hout Bay that offer cruises to Seal Island. You can choose between a 35minute cruise that only goes to Seal island or for a 1 hour trip, that also includes to an impressive shipwreck in Maori Bay. This last cruise departs daily at 13:30 and costs the same as a 35minute cruise (R45 for adults and R20 for children).

During the scenic cruise you hear plenty of information about the Cape Fur Seal, an animal that has been protected since 1973 by the Sea Birds and Seal Protection Act. This act provides complete protection of the Cape Fur Seal, until the government decides to kill seals at specific colonies. Despite this the hunt was only suspended in 1990; between 1973 and 1982 about 18.750 pups and 530 adult males in the whole of South Africa were killed on a yearly basis. From 1983 until 1990, when the hunt was officially suspended, about 3 500 pups and 4 300 adult males were killed.

The vessels of Drumbeat Charters depart from the Warf in Hout Bay, and go straight to Seal Island cruising along Mount Sentinel. Just around the corner from this magnificent landmark, lies the home of the Cape Fur Seal. With thousands of them the animals lay on the rocks, snorting, moaning, grunting. And fighting. Especially the males, measuring between 1,8 m and 2,3m, and weigh between 200 and 360kg, are impressive. The females measure and weight half the size.

Regularly, seals leave the rocks for a dive into the cold Atlantic water. To cool off, to get away from a fight, or to catch some lunch or a little snack. According to Drumbeat Charters, Cape Fur Seals can dive over 400m.

After a tour around the Island, the vessel of Drumbeat Charters sets sail for Maori Bay. Here lies the wreck of the American, a ship that perished here some years ago. Over the years, Cape Cormorants have annexed the wreck as their new home.

From here, Drumbeat Charters
takes you back to Seal Island and return to the harbor. The fun isn't over yet: just keep your eyes wide open as you might spot whales and/or dolphins, especially between September and December when the Southern Right Whale migrates along the coast of the Western Cape province.

Drumbeat Charters
Hout Bay Harbour, Hout Bay
+ 27 (0)21 791 4441/ +27 (0) 82 658 7055
Open: Mon-Sun : 08h30; 09h15, 10:00; 10:45; 13:30 (long cruise)
Closed: 13 March, 2005

(Source: / Miriam Mannak)

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