Cape Town - For three weeks the SPCA had received calls about a Cape fur seal at Kalk Bay Harbour who had fishing hooks lodged in his side and and rear flipper.
Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham said every time they responded to these pleas for help from residents, the Cape fur seal had by that time gone back into the water, having been disturbed by tourists and people wanting to get a closer look at him or take photographs of him.
However, on Monday, chief inspector Jaco Pieterse and his team set off early and were able to catch the seal while he was sleeping on the pier, where the seals of Kalk Bay Harbour usually rested.
“We had been trying to help this seal for around three weeks without success. Calls were coming in from the public about the injured seal but every time we responded, the seal was already back in the sea and we could not safely catch him.
“We left early yesterday (Monday) morning, in the hope that we would find the seal still sleeping on the Kalk Bay pier, and would be able to catch him off guard. The plan worked and thank goodness we were finally able to help,” Pieterse said.
Abraham said they usually used a closed seal net when rescuing seals but Pieterse used an open net so that the hooks could be removed from the seal safely, quietly and quickly.
“Pieterse approached the seal, slipped the net and cover over the seal’s head, and with his experienced sleight of hand deftly removed the two hooks from the seal’s side and rear flipper. Once done, the seal was in a hurry to get back into the harbour,” Abraham said.
Abraham said marine animals suffered from various injuries caused by the irresponsible discarding of hooks and fishing line, among them deep-tissue injuries.
“The ingestion of fish hooks is dangerous for all species because it often results internal bleeding, regurgitation of food, tissue damage, pain, and death,” Abraham said.
Abraham thanked the public for notifying them about the seal and encouraged the public to call the Cape of Good Hope SPCA on 0833261604 or 0217004158/9 as their wildlife department was available 24/7 to assist with wild animals in distress.