Coast KZN

22 Oct 2020

Young fur seal dies after being rushed to uShaka by SPCA

Thobeka Ngema (Daily News: IOL) Picture: Dirkie, the fur seal that was placed in the care of uShaka Sea World did not make it through the night. | Saambr

Durban – Dirkie, a young South African fur seal that kept the Lower South Coast SPCA on their toes over the last few weeks and was recently admitted to uShaka Sea World, died during the night. The seal was admitted in the care of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) on Tuesday but did not make it through the night.

On Wednesday, SAAMBR made the announcement on their Facebook page that Dirkie had died.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share news on the passing of young Dirkie. Sadly he did not make it through the night,” said SAAMBR.

The SPCA was informed of Dirkie’s passing and on their Facebook page, they said: “Further investigation will occur to ascertain cause of death and measurement shall be taken for data purposes.”

Dirkie had been monitored by the SPCA and members of the KZN Marine Stranding Network since he arrived on the lower south coast shores.

SAAMBR said when Dirkie was first spotted, it was felt unnecessary to admit him into human care as he appeared to be healthy and generally found himself a strategic spot either on top of, or amongst rocks. As soon as he was approached, he would disappear into the water making it difficult to get close enough to render assistance.

“He was affectionately named Dirkie by members of the KZN Stranding Network who posted regular updates of his movements and condition throughout the week. This morning when he was spotted on Margate’s main beach Staff from the SPCA Lower South were able to reach him. This time when approached, he did not have the strength to resist or flee back into the water,” said SAAMBR.

“On arrival, Dirkie was examined by SAAMBR veterinarian, Dr Francois Lampen who found him to be extremely thin and lethargic. His current weight is only 9.9 kgs. Other than a few lacerations on his head, he does not appear to be injured.”

Dirkie was given fluids and an antibiotic and left to rest quietly and hopefully regain some strength.

SAAMBR Lead Animal Behaviourist, Hayley Tennant, said: “Although it is too early to talk about his prognosis, his condition is serious and at this point we can only hope that he makes it through the night.”

During the first sightings of Dirkie, the SPCA’s vice chairperson, Carla Steenkamp, sent video footage of Dirkie to SAAMBR and they confirmed that the seal seemed to be in good health although slightly thin. Then the seal was being monitored by the SPCA and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Dirkie was seen between Uvongo and Southbroom beach. He would also rest on the rocks from 9 am to 2 pm.