Elephant seal and ocean plastic
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
For a few weeks our beach walks have circled around Buffel the subantarctic elephant seal. He comes ashore each year for a month to moult, living off his blubber. He doesn't just shed his fur, but also his skin, leaving bits on the beach that look like teddy bears or rabbits. Buffel is 4.2 metres long and 1,200 kilograms. Nine years old, another year till he is fully adult. Elephant for his inflatable proboscis! From IFAW
At first he was the same silvery grey as the sand he lay on. Volunteers made a token barrier of kelp. Later posts, tape and signs were added. Please stay at a respectful distance, quietly. Your dogs on leash.
Buffel was tagged in 2014 at Cape Point. His closest colony is on Marion Island almost two thousand kilometres to swim. From Animal Ocean
After he moulted he uses his flippers to scatter sand over his back to shield the sun. We have a sand sculptor on our beach. As we walked towards Buffel I saw someone touching Buffel ... but it was Michael Myekwa at work!
When there are fish in False Bay, trek fishermen take their small boat and net out. Back on the beach the full net is checked for by-catch and they are good about returning rays, sunfish and sharks to the sea. This was a bronze whaler shark.
Yesterday and again this evening we will watch tracer bullets arc across the sky. Heavy artillery firing behind our mountain, and the earth moves and my ears hurt. Cape Town is the lucky recipient of this year's military exercise. Supposedly remembering lives lost in 1917 with the sinking of SS Mendi. Fighter jets. Tanks on the beach. Last night the cats (wary but not disturbed) watched wildlife on TV with the Ungardener.
Perfect for township children already traumatised by gang warfare
We went to the V&A Waterfront to visit Fleur de Passion. Built for the German Navy in 1941 for coastal defence and minesweeping. War spoils to France till the seventies. Rescued and restored from 2001. Now under a Swiss flag and dedicated to researching microplastic across the world's oceans.
There have been 17 artists in residence. Published sketchbooks to browse at their Our Spice Island Exhibition. A page from Frederik Peeters from Geneva who sailed from Madagascar to Mozambique.
His January hikes
in the mountains
around Cape Town
My Fynbos Rambles start again in March, but his invincible group climbs every week. Watsonia tabularis from Blackburn Panorama above Chapman's Peak Drive.
Looking down at Hout Bay from Skoorsteenberg.
From Third Rock Peak to a distant glimpse of the corner of Table Mountain.
Blue Disa graminifolia at Vlakkenberg.
He hikes with U3A each week.
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