HUNDREDS of seal pups are safe and sound on Mossel Bay’s Seal Island following tireless efforts to relocate them after they washed up on the coastal town’s beaches at the weekend.
Due to rough seas and strong tidal surges, about 350 seal pups washed up on Mossel Bay beaches, including Diaz, Bayview and Hartenbos beaches, between Friday and yesterday.
However, experts, said it was an annual occurrence as the pups – born between November and December – battle against the strong currents.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Garden Route SPCA and the Incident Support Services Mossel Bay have set up a temporary emergency station at the harbour and started rescue operations soon after reports of seal pup sightings started flooding in.
After most of the seals were rounded up and injured pups treated, they were taken back to Seal Island on NSRI, police and Port of Entry vessels.
Craig Viljoen, of Incident Support Services, said: “So far, we have managed to take 326 seals back to the island and a further 22 are to be relocated shortly.”
When seals were born they were buoyant, but unable to swim, he said.
“If heavy surf conditions hit their island, they can be swept off and wash out on beaches in the surrounding area.”
Viljoen and other rescuers were now sweeping Mossel Bay’s beaches three times a day.
“We do a morning sweep, another in the afternoon and a final one in the evening to see if more seals have made it to the shore.”
Viljoen warned the public not to approach the seals or attempt to rescue them, as they could inflict a severe bite if they felt threatened.
There have been reports of people removing seals from the beaches.
Viljoen said it was a criminal offence.
“If you come across a seal pup in distress, inform a lifeguard in the area. They have been trained to deal with the situation and know exactly who to call to collect the animal.” –