Elephant seal seeking to moult harassed by onlookers in Hout Bay
A scientist and developer of the Seafari App, Alex Vogel, said the animal was spotted ashore on Saturday after being seen at the V&A Waterfront, Sea Point and Noordhoek a few days earlier.
The seal was looking for a place to moult, to shed old skin, which would take about a month, Vogel explained.
“Unfortunately, the Hout Bay harbour seal feeders started harassing it almost immediately by throwing pieces of fish at it, hoping it would react. Local children were seen throwing stones at it. On Sunday afternoon, the seal again moved to the beach where it was again harassed by members of the public.
“We are hoping it moves to a quiet beach in Cape Point, but it might be too late for it and it needs to start moulting. As it is a ‘catastrophic’ moult it needs an area where it can stay continuously,” Vogel said.
#SeaTheBiggerPicture organisation co-founder Shamier Magmoet said it was rare for elephant seals to be seen on local shores.
“They come from the far south, and it’s possibly super exhausted from its journey. By teasing it we just add so much stress for the creature who is not used to being around humans,” she said.
Marine mammal biologist Dr Greg Hofmeyr said the seal “can be dangerous if you get too close.
"Every year we get a number of elephant seals it’s a usual occurrence; we should appreciate it and should keep ourselves safe and the seals safe,” he said.