Seals make this beach 'the smelliest place on Earth'

In a recent trip to Namibia, photographer Gordon Donovan visited Cape Cross in the Skeleton Coast, the home of the largest colonies of Cape fur seals in the world. It is nicknamed “the Smelliest Place on Earth.” After checking in with Namibian park officials and paying the minimum fee, he drove to the coastal headland. As he stepped out of the vehicle, the smell of the ocean, seals and dead animals filled the air. It was not sunny, and only 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit), so the smell was not as overwhelming as he had been led to believe it would be — or at least, not today.

The parking area was filled with the carcasses of dead seal pups killed by careless drivers. The beaches were littered with dead pups that either been crushed during a skirmish between other seals or had died of starvation. Walkways built for visitors had been overtaken by seals. The seal population stretched on forever, thousands and thousands of them filling the beach, the ocean and the parking area. Public facilities and walkways for visitors were overtaken by the seals, making access to the beach access impossible. But in general, the impression conveyed on the beach was of multitudes living the life of Riley. (Yahoo News)

Photography by Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News

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<p>Two Cape fur seals fight over territory on the shores of the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Turf war

Two Cape fur seals fight over territory on the shores of the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Cape fur seals gather at a marker at Cape Cross Seal Reserve, as the remains of dead seals fill the beach. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Seals as far as the eye can see

Cape fur seals gather at a marker at Cape Cross Seal Reserve, as the remains of dead seals fill the beach. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Two Cape fur seals pose for a photo on the rocks at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Striking a pose

Two Cape fur seals pose for a photo on the rocks at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal checks out the visitor with a camera upon his arrival at Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. The combination of dead seals and excrement with strong winds of the ocean air will fill your nostrils. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
An interest in visitors

A Cape fur seal checks out the visitor with a camera upon his arrival at Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. The combination of dead seals and excrement with strong winds of the ocean air will fill your nostrils. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A seal pup has a face full of sand as it naps on a barrier wall at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Kicking sand in my face

A seal pup has a face full of sand as it naps on a barrier wall at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Thousands of Cape fur seals fill the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Cape fur seals everywhere

Thousands of Cape fur seals fill the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Seals have overtaken the area surrounding the public restrooms at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Restrooms under siege

Seals have overtaken the area surrounding the public restrooms at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal snifts the remains of a deal seal on the sands of the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
The whiff of a fallen comrade

A Cape fur seal snifts the remains of a deal seal on the sands of the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Cape fur seals swarm the coastal headland at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
The seal colony

Cape fur seals swarm the coastal headland at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Thousands of Cape fur seals fill the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. Visitors are advised not to approach too close to the seals and their young, since they can be aggressive. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
No room on the beach

Thousands of Cape fur seals fill the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. Visitors are advised not to approach too close to the seals and their young, since they can be aggressive. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Hundreds of Cape fur seal fight for position in the water and on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
A popular bathing spot

Hundreds of Cape fur seal fight for position in the water and on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal tends to her young at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Under their mother’s eye

A Cape fur seal tends to her young at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Cape fur seal pups snuggle together to stay warm on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Creating their own comfort zone

Cape fur seal pups snuggle together to stay warm on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>One of the most endearing features of Cape fur seals is their ears; they have external ears, as opposed to true seals, who do not. Photographed at the Cape Cross Seal colony in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
All ears

One of the most endearing features of Cape fur seals is their ears; they have external ears, as opposed to true seals, who do not. Photographed at the Cape Cross Seal colony in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal strikes an upward pose at the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve on the Atlantic Ocean coastline in Namibia, Africa. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
In search of fresh air

A Cape fur seal strikes an upward pose at the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve on the Atlantic Ocean coastline in Namibia, Africa. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal rests on its back on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Roll model

A Cape fur seal rests on its back on the beach at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A seal family rests on rocks on the beach at the Cape Cross seal reserve. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Chewing the fat

A seal family rests on rocks on the beach at the Cape Cross seal reserve. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>Dozens of Cape fur seal swim in the Atlantic Ocean at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
A swim in the Atlantic

Dozens of Cape fur seal swim in the Atlantic Ocean at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A group of Cape fur seal pups cry for their mother as they lie on the rocks at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Time for a feeding

A group of Cape fur seal pups cry for their mother as they lie on the rocks at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

<p>A Cape fur seal rests on a wall near the parking area at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News) </p>
Forty winks

A Cape fur seal rests on a wall near the parking area at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Namibia. (Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

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