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Heavy-side and dusky dolphins, whale-watching, pelicans and seals

heavy side dusky dolphins lead.jpg

Visitors to Walvis Bay on the Atlantic coast of Namibia can enjoy catamaran and speedboat cruises into the bay to see heavy-side dolphins; passing whales in season and for the lucky ones, mola mola (also known as sun fish) can sometimes be seen.

Cape fur seal and pelicans are almost a  given as the white backed pelicans will no doubt fly alongside and follow your boat looking for any stray fish that you or your guide may throw over the side.   As for the fur seals, a few selected cheeky chaps have been known to launch themselves onto the back of tourist catamarans and wiggle around to the front in search of a tasty treat!

It’s a case of a role reversal and now the humans are on show.  These seals have got it all worked out to the tee, flutter your dewy big brown eyes at a gullible humanoid and a couple of tasty sardines are sure to come your way. Close up photographic opportunities are unparalleled.

The catamaran cruises are great fun and depending on which cruise one takes, some of the longer ones include a delicious oyster and crayfish champagne lunch. Before you even board the boats pelicans watch your every move – just in case you have a spare fish in your pocket for them!

The waters in the bay tend to be calm and sheltered and an onboard guide will point out the different birds and sea life.  Around Pelican Point you are likely to see Cape Fur seals lounging on the sands whilst the endemic heavy sided dolphins (Benguela Cephalorhynchus heavisidi) and sometimes the resident bottle nosed dolphins numbering around 100, ride the catamarans bow waves. Out to sea one can sometimes see dusky dolphins, (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) which rarely come close to shore.

If you fancy something more energetic, then take to the waters in the morning on kayaks led by an experienced guide – peaceful and much quieter, this is a really perfect way to start your day. Curious seals may greet you, swimming gently alongside.

Namibia’s Atlantic Coastline is rich in resources, be it diamonds in the coastal waters and desert, to the rich sea life. Anglers are drawn here with Steen bass, mackerel and galjoen being caught.

In turn the wildlife including the brazen extrovert pelicans, many sea birds and the Cape fur seals feed off this rich fish smorgasbord.  The bay is one of the most important migratory wetlands in Southern Africa.

Occasionally leatherback turtles are seen as well as humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliaeor southern right whales, the latter in October-November. For bird watchers, do look out for Cape gannet, black oystercatchers and Wilson’s storm petrel. Turtles (green and leatherback), feed on jellyfish swept along in the cold Benguela current.

The Skeleton Coast with its many shipwrecks is one of the most remarkable places to visit and Walvis Bay certainly is a good place to start. But as the wildlife testifies, this is also a rich environment to explore. Look out for the endangered Damara terns nesting on the shoreline.  Without doubt the photographic prospects along this coast are fabulous.

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