Cape Town - Move over, Jonno Proudfoot and Thane Williams – you may have completed an astounding world-first 459km open-water swim from Mozambique to Madagascar last year, but Selso’s more recent long-distance swim has rather eclipsed that.
Then again, Selso is a Southern Elephant Seal whose natural home is the vast Southern Ocean, and swimming is his full-time occupation.
And when the elephant seal hauled out on the southern shores of Marion Island at the end of last month, he’d clocked an astounding 8 000km in six months, swimming from just south of Port Elizabeth to virtually the ice shelf of Antarctica and then back to Marion – at 1 920km south-east of Cape Town, the nearest colony of his species.
The seal, then still a pup, was found stranded among the dune plants on Southbroom beach on KwaZulu-Natal’s Hibiscus coast in June last year.
Elephant seals fetch up quite regularly on the Cape coast and less frequently on KZN beaches, often during a moult, but he was in very poor shape, according to Colette Bodenstaff, assistant curator of mammals and birds at Durban’s uShaka Sea World who went to rescue him for possible rehabilitation.