Rocher Pan with beached seals
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
In November 2013 we lived in Porterville and were looking forward to my Ungardener’s Swiss pension (now I'm a twirly too!) We celebrated at Rocher Pan Nature Reserve walking by the sea on a long, long sandy beach. (We've walked there before in summer and winter, and stayed in the new cottages for spring flowers!) But first we collected our Wild Card permit from the office.
The road was covered in fine shell gravel as we walked to the gate which I remember as - locked years ago, the end of the road. We walked on to the lookout picnic site on the crest of the dune.
We were quite alone, except for one other couple who claimed the picnic site as we left.
|Watching a Cape fur seal at Rocher Pan Nature Reserve|
Our brains may have evolved to sift through the barrage of visual input in our eyes and identify those things that are most important for us to consciously perceive, such as a threat or resources such as food, Mary Peterson suggested.
That beach walk began grimly with beached seals. Some too young, with soft grey fur. Again last Sunday on our False Bay beach walk we saw two dead seals.
News24 20111209 "A scientist told us that the phenomenon is associated with the breeding season of seals; very rough seas, and strong wind conditions." He said seal pups were vulnerable and could find themselves in distress if they could not swim.
I approached yet another carcass cautiously … my heart stopped, as the seal suddenly twitched, blinked at me, then sat up and swore. The littler one nearby also woke smartly Wassup?! They headed out to sea flipper by flipper. Littlest one wallowed in the surf waiting for those bleddie people to go. So he could settle on the sand again, heave a big yawn, and go back to sleep, warily.
Cape fur seals are endemic to Namibia and South Africa. Mating and breeding time is November/December.
About seal culling in Namibia. On the SAPPI Seal Platform at the Two Oceans Aquarium within Cape Town Harbour, one animal had to be carefully released from a discarded plastic loop embedded in the flesh around his growing neck. Please always cut open plastic loops before you ‘throw them away’ or recycle.
I planned sea colours for our False Bay house. Sea glass, breaking wave, milky green. Aqua skies and still waters. Ivory of sea foam. Taupe of wet sand. With a little of the best bitter chocolate in dried kelp fronds. That muted palette sparked with the rusty colour of red seaweed - on the front door, the garden gate and our washing pergola.
|November 2013 flowers at Rocher Pan|
Limonium peregrinum, Didelta carnosa
Grielum grandiflorum, Antholyzoa plicata
Since we walked the road, I could gather flowers. Pink Limonium peregrinum (or is it capense?) sea lavender, in the plumbago family, among 350 species of Limonium worldwide. Buttery yellow Grielum grandiflorum sandy coastal flats from Port Nolloth to the Peninsula, rose family. Strange ‘flowers’ which were the prickly bronzed seedheads of yellow daisies with succulent leaves Didelta carnosa with leaf-like involucral bracts beneath the yellow petals. On the dune near the sea, siren song of fierce red flowers Antholyzoa plicata iris family.
– Info from PlantZAfrica, and the South African Wild Flower Guides for the West Coast, and for Namaqualand.
For 2017's Advent wreath the garden gives me silvery plumes of Dusty Miller (spiller), tufts of scented Pelargonium leaves (filler) and Alstroemeria (thriller).
In a vase on Monday with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.
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