A rescued Cape fur seal returns home after a short stay at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
In a week that saw nothing but bad and sad news for our fur seals, we are delighted to be able to share a happy moment as a seal that we rescued off a beach in a desperate state, headed back to freedom wholly happy and healed!
The Cape of Good SPCA Wildlife Department responded to a call of a sick and injured seal stranded amidst beachgoers (and their dogs) on Blouberg Beach last Friday evening. Cancelling his dinner plans to answer the call, SPCA Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse arrived at the beach with a helping hand and a plan. Assessing the seal to be underweight and with a nasty gash to its right elbow (likely to be an injury from an embedded fishing hook), he set to work loading the 80kg-plus seal into a purpose-designed box for transport to the SPCA Animal Hospital for emergency care.
Over the following days, the seal (nicknamed “Blue”) was fed a protein-packed diet and given lots of time to rest her frazzled flippers while her elbow wound was cleaned twice daily – no easy task for a seal her size, but she sensed we were only trying to help and eventually would calmly look the other way while soothing wound-care was applied.
By day five, she was beginning to gaze longingly out of her enclosure fence towards the sea and becoming increasingly restless so we knew it was her time to go home, as seals will get depressed if kept from their colony for too long.
Getting a large and tired seal into a transport container is not an easy task – they will fight to their last against anything that might threaten their freedom. This task takes six or seven strong men and women with a lot of patience and understanding of seal behaviour to get the job done.
After about forty minutes of gentle coaxing, pleading and tempting with fish, Blue was safely in the transport box and on her way home.
The Wildlife team chose an especially secluded beach not too far from where she was found, where some shallow rock pools would give her just the right amount of cover and confidence to head out into deeper waters when she was ready.
The door to her container was opened and with no time for drawn-out goodbyes, she hauled her frame out and onto the beach where she spent a few minutes taking in the fresh air and re-calibrating her internal compass before taking to the water like, well, a homesick seal!
For the SPCA wildlife team that was responsible for her capture and care, her return and release; these are the moments that make it all worthwhile.
God speed Blue, live long and prosper…
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA Wildlife Department responds to an average of 75 seal-related calls a year throughout the year. Most of the calls we respond to are regarding entangled seals, sick seals or seals being harassed on public beaches while trying to rest up after a long swim.
Love seals and want to help?
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA has launched the Seal Safe Squad!
We are looking for volunteers to join our seal-spotting beach crew and to help be the eyes and ears for seals around our coastline.