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01 Feb 2021

Rare Crabeater seal spotted off KZN coast

(Northglen News) Picture: Facebook. The Crabeater seal has been named Ragnar, after the legendary viking Ragnar Lothbrok.

The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) admitted a rare Crabeater seal recently after the Antarctic sea creature was spotted along the KZN coast.  According to SAAMBR, this is the third recorded sighting of a Crabeater seal on the KZN coastline in 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,” said SAAMBR.

The adult Crabeater seal (Lobodon carciniphaga) was seen by local residents resting on some rocks on 28 January at Ramsgate on the KZN Lower South Coast.

SAAMBR shared this photo of the Crabeater seal (Lobodon carciniphaga) on their Facebook page.

“Staff from the SPCA Lower South branch were alerted and decided to capture the seal and transport it to uShaka Marine World for observation and possible treatment,” said SAAMBR.

What’s more, another Crabeater seal sighting was reported in East London on the same day.

“Crabeater seals are true seals who call the coast of Antarctica home. Upon arrival at uShaka Sea World, resident veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen found him to be in good overall condition, he was understandably stressed,” said SAAMBR.

The staff decided to call him Ragnar after Ragnar Lothbrok from the popular television series, Vikings.

“The seal was admitted into one of the rehabilitation holding pools and left to rest and adjust to his new surroundings,” said SAAMBR.

Despite their name, Crabeater seals do not eat crabs.

“They are specialist feeders, feeding on the abundant krill of the Southern Ocean. This is presenting a challenge and the seal team are researching and implementing innovative ways to entice feeding. We are in consultation with seal specialist Dr Greg Hofmeyer from Bayworld, PE who has vast experience in marine mammal management, for guidance on Ragnar’s care, treatment and reintroduction to the ocean. Although Crabeater seals are among the most abundant seal species in the world, Ragnar is unique and we will do our best to ensure that he is soon fit and strong enough to make his way back to the Antarctica,” said SAAMBR.