On Boxing Day tens of thousands of people head to the beaches around the Cape Peninsula and this year it was a hot, sizzling kind of day. Colourful scenes were cast, revelers enjoying the day. A day to chill, complete with barbecues, picnic fare, families in a day out with all their beach paraphernalia. Many of the Peninsula’s fine white sand beaches are kept “pristine” by the regular removal of kelp and other detritus. But some are left to nature’s cycles, and in this case local knowledge is an advantage, spelling the difference between comfort and discomfort. In August i wrote about the anatomy of a working beach, the complex symbiosis of sea wrack and the legions of ‘detritus movers and shakers’. Here is the summer guise of the same beach, still very much the domain of bird and buck, sand hoppers and sea lice.
The heat of the day catches, mirages form shimmering on the horizon. Even the buck are caught in a state of ennui. A swishing tail flicks away the bothersome flies.
The rotting dried out corpses of Slender Sunfish lie on the beach; victim of the southeasterly winds and the upwelling of the chill Benguela current.
An intrepid party of beach goers arrive; foreigners – French speaking. As they set up in the midst of sand hopper terrain, not far from the high methane scent of rotting kelp, i can’t help but wonder how long they’ll last before moving to a more hospitable venue.