Seal in Fishing Net
By Lloyd Edwards

Monday, 9th March 2020

It is always such a sad sight to see anything entangled in a discarded fishing net. We saw this South African fur seal on St Croix Island recently. According to Dr Greg Hofmeyer from Bayworld, it has been seen in the same area on another occasion. It can still swim and move freely so will be difficult to capture.

SA fur seals were hunted and wiped out on St Croix Island in 1823 by British Settlers and have never returned. We do see the occasional visitor, but they never stay for more than a few days. Probably some good news for the African penguins as seals have displaced bird colonies from several islands along our coast. While still on St Croix, the seals used to dominate the lower reaches, forcing the penguins to "run the gauntlet" to get to their nests.

The population at Black Rocks near Bird Island is around 4000, while the total population in Namibia and SA is around two million. They do compete with the fishing industry as they consume two million tons of fish per annum. It is estimated that around 4000 seals get accidently killed by trawlers every year. Trawling should be banned! Try and only buy fish that is caught by line. Trawlers have so much bycatch.

The white sharks will start arriving at Bird Island around April when the seal pups are learning to swim. They make an easy meal for these apex predators. This is around the time of the year when the winter storms wash many of the pups onto our beaches. Of interest is that after mating, embryo implantation into the uterus is delayed by four months, so that females give birth a year later when they haul out to breed again.



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