Showing no signs of jet lag after Friday’s flight from Cape Town, Bayworld Oceanarium’s newest patient, Edward Flipper Hands, has settled in to tasty meals of fish and, for the first time in months, the companionship of five other subantarctic fur seals of the same age.
Edward, a cute-looking pup with seemingly oversized flippers, arrived in the Bay after spending nearly four months at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty’s to Animals (NSPCA) short-term wildlife rehabilitation centre in Cape Town.
The seal washed up on the beach there following a storm, which separated the pup, who is too young to hunt for himself, from his mother.
His flight, during which he was accompanied by Cape Town NSPCA’s Conner Berning, was sponsored by British Airways and commercial animal logistics service Bidair Petlounge.
The seal, which was in critical condition when he washed up, was relocated to Bayworld because it is the only NSPCA-approved facility equipped to assist the seal both in its rehabilitation and later his release.
The facility would also provide Edward with much- needed companionship among his own species.
Bayworld’s curator for sea birds and marine mammals, Cherie Lawrence, said their new arrival was in very good condition.
“All of the seals we now have here are in great condition, which we are very pleased about. Most of the seals arrived skinny and malnourished,” Lawrence said.
“One had a bad injury but we have fixed and fattened them up, ready for release.”
She said it was hoped that the six seals “and a turtle or two” would be set free in a mass release by the end of the month.
The subantarctic fur seals are normally released into the Agulhas Current between 60 and 80km offshore of Port Elizabeth, from where they can make their roughly 1 600km journey, along with the current, to their natural habitats, which include Gough, Marion and the Prince Edward islands, among others.