The Robberg Peninsula is home to an enormous colony of Cape Fur Seals. Historically, the Dutch Settlers in South Africa named the peninsula Robberg (meaning “Seal Mountain”) and this is an accurate description. The colony is home to around 3000 Cape Fur Seals and, as a breeding colony, there are often seal pups.
Snorkeling and swimming with the seals has become a popular activity as these inquisitive creatures are fond of company! As the boat approaches the colony, we see movement in the water. Seals launch into the air, twisting like dancers and large male seals lumber into the water for a closer look. Once we are fully kitted up in wetsuits, masks and snorkels the group slides into the water from the boat’s pontoon. The guide takes the lead, ducking beneath the sea elegantly to move among the animals.
Soon, human and seal heads are disappearing and reappearing in the water in mutual curiosity and wonder. The juveniles are by far the most interactive; small nimble bodies shoot between divers’ legs only to appear directly in front of my mask. Black eyes stare at me enquiringly and a stream of small bubbles issues from a button nose. The adult males are an incredible sight, enormous sleek bodies that move impossibly fast, barking bubbles at divers in a very convincing attempt to establish their territory.
Watching seals in their preferred environment is an awesome experience. On land, they are burdened by their weight, uncomfortable and ill-equipped. But in the water they come alive: synchronised swimmers turning with the twitch of a flipper. They enjoy demonstrating their agility to anyone able to keep up. It is difficult not to get completely absorbed in this silent, blue world; weightless and surrounded by one of the planet’s most graceful creatures.
Too soon the trip is over and we head back to Plettenberg Bay. Swimming with the seals is a really unique and special experience, suitable for most ages and fitness levels and I would definitely do it again.
Check out this video of snorkeling with the seals