There are various game lodges in Africa that are either on the coast or within easy driving distance, meaning that you can combine the beach and the bush for you safari holiday. Besides the magnificent wildlife you will see during game drives, there are various marine mammals of Africa to be found close to safari destinations. Some are easy to find, and there are boat trips and dives organised by groups, organisations and tour operators to view these incredible mammals in their natural habitat. Others may prove more difficult to come across.
1. Cape Fur Seal
Where do they live? The Cape fur seal is found around the southern and south-western coast of Africa from Cape Cross in Namibia and around the Cape of Good Hope to Black Rocks near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province in South Africa.
What do they eat? Fish makes up about 70% of their diet, with the remainder consisting of squid and crab, as well as other crustaceans, cephalopods and birds. In extreme cases they have even been known to attack and eat sharks.
How long do they live? About 20 years
Where do they live? Found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
What do they eat? They graze on underwater grasses.
How long do they live? 70 years
3. West African Manatee
Where do they live? Found in much of the western region of Africa, from Senegal to Angola.
What do they eat? Mostly herbivorous, their diet consists mainly of various types of flora found above or hanging over the water. However, they are also known to eat clams, mollusks and fish they find in nets.
How long do they live? About 30 years
4. Leopard Seal
Where do they live? Found along the coast of Antarctica and on most sub-Antarctic islands, as well as on the coasts of southern Australia, Tasmania, South Africa, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island, Tierra del Fuego, the Cook Islands and the Atlantic coast of South America.
What do they eat? They are predatorial. Smaller seals eat mostly krill, squid and fish; while the larger seals switch from krill to more substantial prey like king, adelie, rockhopper, gentoo, emperor and chinstrap penguins. Sometimes, although less frequently, they will eat other seals, such as crabeater seals. Around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, the Antarctic fur seal is the main prey. Other prey includes penguins and fish. Antarctic krill, southern elephant seal pups and seabirds (other than penguins) have also been consumed by these predators.
How long do they live? About 26 years
5. Southern Right Whale
Where do they live? They spend the summer in the far Southern Ocean feeding, probably close to Antarctica. In winter they migrate north for breeding and can be seen close to the coasts of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Namibia, Mozambique, Peru, Tristan de Cunha, Uruguay, Madagascar, New Zealand and South Africa.
What do they eat? They eat some of the smallest creatures in the ocean, filtering water through numerous, long baleen plates to feed on small plankton including larval crustaceans and copepods.
How long do they live? About 50 years
6. Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Where do they live? Found in warm and temperate tropical oceans worldwide.
What do they eat? Eels, squid, shrimp and a wide variety of fish.
How long do they live? 40 – 45 years
7. Elephant Seal
Where do they live? The northern elephant seal ranges over the Pacific coast of the United States, Canada and Mexico; while the southern elephant seal is found in the Southern Hemisphere on islands such as South Georgia and Macquarie Island, and on the coasts of New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the Peninsula Valdés.
What do they eat? Skates, rays, squid, octopuses, eels, small sharks and large fish.
How long do they live? About 9 years for the northerners and up to 22 years for the southerners.
8. Humpback Dolphin
Where do they live? Found close to shore along the coast of West Africa and right along the coast of the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia.
What do they eat? Mostly mullet and other fish.
How long do they live? The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is said to have a life expectancy of about 40 years, and the Atlantic humpback dolphin one of about 15 to 20 years.
Where do they live? Found in all oceans, from the cold Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas.
What do they eat? Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals like seals and even whales.
How long do they live? About 50 years
10. Crabeater Seal
Where do they live? They have a continuous circumpolar distribution surrounding Antarctica, with occasional sightings or strandings in the extreme southern coasts of South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
What do they eat? A specialist predator, it feeds mainly on Antarctic krill. Other prey includes cephalopods and various Antarctic fish species. Despite their name, they do not eat crabs – which are not found in their Antarctic habitat.
How long do they live? 39 years
Magnificent Moments with Marine Mammals
Hotspot for whale watching in Africa: Hermanus, South Africa
Hotspot for dolphin diving in Africa: Kizimkazi, Tanzania
Hotspot for seeing seals in Africa: Mossel Bay, South Africa