Diego Cão and Cape fur seal colony
Cape Cross offers two highlights: Firstly a historical landmark where Diego Cão set foot on land in 1485 as the first european. Secondly a very large cape fur colony including deafening shouts und heavy smells.
In 1485 King John II (João II) of Portugal instructed the Portuguese sailor Diego Cão to sail south along the west coast of Africa to look for a sea route to India and to document and seize unknown terrain for the Portuguese crown. For this purpose stone crosses were taken along, which were erected on land and which informed about the appropriation of the Portuguese crown.
Diego Cão reached Cape Cross (about 120 km north of Swakopmund) in 1486 and erected a padrão. The inscription of this cross, which has been removed and replaced with two copies, can be read in three languages: “In the year 6665 after the Creation of the world and 1485 years after the birth of Christ the outstanding, foresighted King John II of Portugal instructed a knight of his court, Diego Cão to discover this land and to erect the padrão.”
The second stone cross that can be found on site was a replica funded privately that shows a more accurate copy of the original cross than the first copy from 1895. The original cross is located at the transport Museum in Berlin.
Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross
Not only the historic appropriation of the land by the Portuguese crown makes Cape Cross a place of interest, but also one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies, which resides here. During October / November the young are born, thus increasing the population to more than 100,000 animals. As the seals consume substantial amounts of fish a conflict with the fishing industry exists. Thus the government gave permission to cull large numbers of seals, which again lead to heavy protests from animal rights groups. During 2006 for example 90.000 seals were culled in Namibia. After protests the numbers have been reduced to 6.500 bulls and 65.000 young seals. Along the whole coasts numbers are estimated at about 700.000 adult seals and 138.000 juveniles. The main habitat areas are the large colonies at Atlas Bay and at Cape Cross.
The seals are a substantial tourist attraction. Deafening shouts und heavy smells (depending on the direction of the wind) are typical for Cape Cross. While the bulls are out at sea and only come to sore during the mating season the females fight each other with screams and threatening gestures to secure the best spots on land. The cute youngsters and the loud teenag-ers have polished the rocks along the beach.