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Authorities probe alarming spike in seal deaths in the province

Western Cape authorities are investigating an alarming spike in seal deaths along the coastline in the province. Picture:Armand Hough/ African News Agency

Western Cape authorities are investigating an alarming spike in seal deaths along the coastline in the province. Picture:Armand Hough/ African News Agency

Published Nov 9, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Western Cape authorities are investigating an alarming spike in seal deaths along the coastline in the province.

Hundreds of Cape fur seals, including premature pups and sub-adult females, have been washing up at Lambert’s Bay, Elands Bay, St Helena Bay, and Paternoster along the West Coast.

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MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning, Anton Bredell said the department was aware of the dying seals washing up along the coast, and disaster management officials had noted the dying seals in their reports over the past few weeks.

“The experts say that some deaths among seal populations at this time of the year can be expected, however, what we are seeing is an abnormally high number of animals sick and dying on the coastline.

“We are committed to finding out why and the State Veterinary service is already conducting tests on dead seals to determine the cause of these deaths. This report is expected this week,” he said.

Bredell added that the experts agree that the seal deaths were not likely to be caused by the ongoing Avian Influenza epidemic affecting wild sea birds in the Western Cape.

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) said preliminary observations from their team found that the carcasses had shown signs of undernourishment/malnutrition.

Several partners and NGOs are working tirelessly on the problem, among them the Sea Search Team.

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The public is advised to contact the Sea Search team if they find a dead seal along the shoreline.

“Please send a picture, location, and date. The Sea Search team is collating records to further their understanding of the current die-off,” said Bredell.

The Sea Search team can be contacted via email at [email protected]

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