Coast KZN

24 Sep 2017

Exhausted seal washes up on Richards Bay beach

Tamlyn Jolly (Zululand Observer) Picture: The sub-adult Sub-Antarctic fur seal was first seen at Richards Bay's Palm Beach early Sunday morning (Photos: Tamlyn Jolly)

Good Samaritans ensured the seal’s safety while it slept on the beach

AFTER washing up on Richards Bay’s Palm Beach this morning (Sunday), a Sub-Antarctic fur seal was captured and taken to Sea World for assessment and rehabilitation.

Thought to be a sub-adult female, the exhausted creature was first seen at about 5.30am by a fisherman.

As onlookers got a bit too close, the seal tried to ready itself for defence, but soon collapsed with exhaustion.


A short while later, the sighting was reported to Durban-based Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Marine Biologist, Jennifer Olbers, who is part of the stranding network.

Olbers immediately organised a team from Sea World which travelled from Durban to the Bay, successfully captured the seal, which was alive but exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, and transported it to their base.

During the time it took the Sea World team to be assembled and arrive at Palm Beach, a few Good Samaritans, including Meerensee CPF’s Dave Pretorius, as well as Richards Bay SPCA Inspector Wynand Strauss and Vice-Chairperson Elizabeth Cordiglia, kept a watchful eye over the seal, ensuring no one ventured too close to it, which would have caused the animal undue stress.

This allowed the seal to remain calm and get some much-needed rest.

Once at Sea World, the seal will be assessed by their vets and given water for the dehydration and food as it appeared to be under-nourished.

In the crate and ready to go to Sea World in Durban, thanks to the dedicated Sea World team which included Poulus Siyesu, Bilal Limbada and Halalisani Zikhali.

Once the vets are happy the seal is healthy and has reached its target weight, it will be released into the ocean, at a latitude more suitable to its usual habitat.

As the name suggests, Sub-Antarctic fur seals do not live in our waters.

They are found in the southern parts of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and breed on Gough Island, and Marion Island which is part of the Prince Edward Islands.


 It is normal for them to venture out of their natural habitat in search of food, and they are drawn to South Africa’s east coast during such times as the sardine run.

While strandings of Sub-Antarctic fur seals are common along South Africa’s coastline during our winter season as they come ashore to rest, this year has seen strandings of the elephant seal out-number those of the Sub-Antarctic.