A Cape fur seal with a plastic rope entanglement has no way of freeing itself. This will lead infection and death, unless someone removes this. Supplied
A Cape fur seal with a plastic rope entanglement has no way of freeing itself. This will lead infection and death, unless someone removes this. Supplied

Plastic pollution presents a threat to fur seals, seabirds and turtles, which could lead to their deaths

By Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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Cape Town - Marine enthusiasts agree that educating people about the harm plastic causes to marine wildlife is important. Fur seals, sea birds and turtles become entangled or swallow plastic waste and die. This destroys the delicate ecosystems on which they and we rely on.

To make the public understand, wildlife conservation photographer and founder of Animal Ocean, Steven Benjamin will release his short film Saving Seals at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Thursday.

The short film is about passionate people who want to make a difference in our oceans. It highlights Two Oceans Aquarium staff members, Claire Taylor and Vincent Calder, and the team with which they work, as they go to extreme lengths to cut plastic snares off fur seals, who would otherwise die.

Benjamin said: “The purpose is to bring awareness to this issue that our fur seals face on a daily basis, entanglement in plastic waste and fishing gear. Secondly, it highlights the people who are doing something to change these seals' lives. The film explores the passion of Claire Taylor and Vincent Calder, from the Two Oceans Aquarium, on their quest to help these animals.”

“New veterinary techniques allow us to sedate fur seals in the water for the first time. Faced with the frustration of not being able to help every seal, Claire Taylor initiated contact with a marine mammal sedation expert, Doctor Brett Gardener. Doctor Gardener came to South Africa to train the Two Oceans Aquarium staff, amongst others, to use specific drug combinations and techniques. This allowed the South African vets to sedate fur seals in the water, which was new and never done before,” he said.

Media liaison for the Two Oceans Aquarium, Renée Leeuwner, said it is important to educate the public about seals because they form part of a rich marine heritage and play an important role in the marine ecosystem.

“Seals form a vital part of our coastal biodiversity. They are very important for the maintenance of a healthy food chain. And, as an iconic species, play a critical role in creating awareness for the ocean and its inhabitants.”

“All drains lead to the ocean. What you do on land affects the ocean. The easiest way to make a positive impact on the seals is to cut any loop that you place into the garbage or recycling. Anything that forms a noose has the potential to be a killer. By eliminating these nooses before they reach the ocean, you reduce the impacts on the seals and other marine wildlife. Be responsible with your litter and dispose of it correctly,” she said.

Weekend Argus

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