Watch out for stranded animals as seal season begins

The elephant seal, affectionately dubbed 'Tubby,'who washed up in Zinkwazi last year - as we all do from time to time.

The seals have started returning to our coastline, meaning it is that time of year when strandings are more likely.

According to the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) at uShaka, the peak months for seal strandings are between May and August.

Each year many strandings occur along the KZN coastline, involving everything from whales to dolphins, seals, whale sharks, penguins and various other seabirds such as gannets and cormorants.

In a statement, SAAMBR explained that, with the exception of seals, most marine animals that strand in KZN do so because they are not in good health, so it is in their best interests not to return them to the water before they have been assessed and, if necessary, treated.

Seals, however, are often in good health when they come ashore, doing so merely to rest after a tiring swim from the southern Cape or even as far as Marion Island and Prince Edward Island. Seals usually return to the ocean once they have rested, so it is vital not to disturb a resting seal and to leave it to recover in its own time.

Also read: Zinkwazi’s Tubby the seal given a new home

“If you find a seal on the beach, maintain a safe distance from it,” said Specialised Rescue Unit’s Quentin Power, a member of the KZN Stranding Network.

“You can watch it from a distance, but do not interact with the animal or try to feed it.”

Power said there were also a lot of turtle hatchlings appearing on the coast at present and urged people to leave them be and not to handle them.

“Very importantly for these little hatchlings, do not drive on the dunes, and if you happen to find a nest, leave it alone and if possible cordon it off.”

Tubby was super pleased to be released after her check-up at uShaka.

It is up to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the KZN Marine Stranding Network members to determine the best action for these animals.

  1. For instance, if the animal is found to be injured or sick, it might be best to transport it to uShaka Sea World’s rehabilitation facility or, in the case of birds, to the CROW – Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife if found north of the Umkomaas River or Second Chance Avian Rescue if found south of the Umkomaas River.

If you find a stranded animal on the beach, please contact uShaka Sea World at 031 328 8222 during office hours and 031 328 8060 after hours, public holidays and weekends.

What to do if you find a seal on the beach:

  1. Contact uShaka Sea World.
  2. Send them a photo of the seal. Guidance will be given to first responders on the beach via phone as each situation is different.
  3. Cordon off a 5m perimeter around seal.
  4. Keep people and pets away.

Please do not:

  1. Harass or chase seal back into the water.
  2. Touch the seal.
  3. Feed the seal.
  4. Attempt to transport it, as this is against the law for the public.

Viewing Ballito’s golden stretch of beautiful beaches has never been easier. Click HERE for LIVE footage from four prominent positions on the Dolphin Coast.

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  AUTHOR
Allan Troskie
Journalist

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