Coast KZN

14 Feb 2021

Ragnar the Crabeater seal wins the hearts of uShaka staff

(Northglen News) Picture: Ragnar, is currently in the care of Glen Anil resident and uShaka Sea World Animal Care Specialist, Ana-Alicia Eyre

Ragnar, the young Crabeater seal has won the hearts of staff at uShaka Sea World since his arrival more than a week ago. He was first spotted by local residents resting on some rocks at Ramsgate on the lower KZN south coast.

It is only the third recorded sighting of a Crabeater seal on the KZN coastline over the past 40 years. As rare as these sightings are in South Africa, possibly even rarer still is the sighting of two Crabeater seals in South Africa on the same day as another Crabeater seal sighting was reported in East London.

Ragnar, is currently in the care of Glen Anil resident and uShaka Sea World Animal Care Specialist, Ana-Alicia Eyre who spoke to Northglen News about his condition since arriving in Durban.

“When he arrived, resident veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen found Ragnar to be in good overall condition. He is currently in one of the rehabilitation holding pools and left to rest and adjust to his new surroundings. It’s been such a rare and wonderful experience working and caring for him because we so rarely come across Crabeater seals in KZN. We’ve been in contact with seal specialist Dr Greg Hofmeyer from Bayworld in Port Elizabeth who has vast experience in marine mammal management for guidance on Ragnar’s care, treatment and reintroduction to the ocean.

“What we’ve found through our research is that 95 per cent of his diet consists of krill. We’ve had to find creative and different options to find alternatives and he is now feeding on corvina, pilchards, mackerel, maasbunker and squid. He prefers eating in the late afternoon and evening. This species hunts mainly at night and to help recreate that environment for him, we put off the lights in the rehab pools so he can feel at ease with his surroundings,” she said.

Eyre added the plan was to observe Ragnar for a few more days before which he will be taken to Port Elizabeth for release.

“He has been a joy to look after and you’d often find staff looking at him in the pool or while he is asleep. He has definitely won the hearts of all of us here, he is inquisitive and intelligent and we are investigating the various possibilities which could have caused Ragnar to stray from his natural feeding grounds and end up on the KZN coast. We are doing everything we can to see him strong enough to make his way back home to Antarctica” she said.