Seals and their Human Predators

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Human Predators

Humans have been a threat to ocean life for a long time. Animals are being affected worldwide by our actions.

Here in Cape Town, the Cape fur seals are suffering from pollution and overfishing. Sadly, seals and fisherman do not have the best relationship. Overfishing has caused many problems for humans and animals alike. Seals are being forced to steal the fishermen’s catches thanks to overfishing.

Because of this relationship, many fisherman care very little for seals. They also throw old nets and other litter into the ocean, causing many curious seals to end up entangled, and injured. A seal sees a pile of fishing line as something to play with so dives right in, becoming dangerously entangled!

Naude Dreyer from Ocean Conservation Namibia said that if you find an entangled or injured seal, call a lifeguard or a local seal rescue centre. Make sure to keep people away from the seal so it doesn’t swim away, and for your safety, keep a safe distance.

Naude says that Pelican Point in Namibia is home to anything between 50,000 and 100,000 Cape Fur Seals. “They are generally found in good condition, our ocean holds plenty of fish and few predators – except for humans. Ocean debris has become a major issue, and our very playful seals will try and play with anything they can find, often getting themselves stuck in plastic wrapping, clothing, discarded fishing line, old rusty paint bucket rings or anything else that might resemble a toy. Without help, they will eventually meet a gruesome fate.”

Our Very Own Seal Rescue Center 

Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre is open 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies. With all that they have contributed to rescuing the seals, they still don’t have supplies needed to rescue more seals. For instance, they have no boats to get around, and they are struggling to buy in enough fish for all the seals.

This is related to the overfishing issue – good fish is so hard to buy cheaply. Huge fishing boats cast big nets into the ocean, dragging everything in its path up to the deck of the boat. That means numerous fish, turtles, sharks, sea anemones, shrimps, seals, and corals are all dragged up. This wrecks the ocean sea life and upsets the delicate ecosystem balance in the ocean.

Do We Need to Eat Fish?

As you can see, it’s not just seals that are affected by the overfishing problem. You can help with this, even if it is just a little. Try using alternatives for fish, so you don’t eat what little fish is left in our oceans, and leave it for the seals, and other sea life.

You don’t have to commit to anything, but just try out something different, and check out our video that will be coming up soon about healthy eating and good VEGAN/VEGETARIAN options.

I know this may sound weird, but it’s actually really healthy for you. You may not know this, but lots of the fish we eat is actually not that clean. Besides all the pollution in the water, you get such things as micro plastics.

This is what happens when a plastic bag has been floating in the ocean for so long, it eventually starts getting broken down into lots and lots of little bits forming billions of micro plastics that are too small to see with the naked eye, but they float around in the ocean. Fish digest them and, this may not seem like such a big deal because the plastic is so small. But when that fish travels up the food chain by being eaten by a seal, let’s say, and that seal is eaten by a shark, this micro plastic ends of killing plenty of small and very big, very important sea life.

So, you can see that not everything is as it seems. And we do need your ethical commitment to saving our oceans.

Ocean Plastic is a Nightmare

Hey!! Did you know?? Seals are at the Mercy of Humans! Leeya and Sophia discuss the issues and the rescue centre…

Leeya: It is estimated that millions of tons of plastic enters the ocean every year!! That’s a lot. Think about the animals in the ocean, the poor seals.

Look at this information from the IUCN:

Marine plastics

  • Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications.
  • At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.
  • Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths.
  • Plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.
  • There is an urgent need to explore the use of existing legally binding international agreements to address marine plastic pollution.
  • Recycling and reuse of plastic products, and support for research and innovation to develop new products to replace single-use plastics are also necessary to prevent and reduce plastic pollution.

Scary but real! Well, we thought about all of this when we visited Hout Bay Seal Center and we learnt many things about how to feed them, and what they do.

Sophia: Did you realise what trouble our oceans are in?? I am really happy we are helping to make a difference!! What do you think??

Leeya: I’m very glad, why don’t we look at some pics??

Sophia: Wow!! I love seals. I wish I could help out more but there can’t be too many people there, so call them and find out if you can help. Here’ s their phone number: 072 988 5193.

Leeya: I remember that the lady’s name was Kim!! And the helpers are there 24/7.

Sophia: Why don’t we see what Kim has to say on their web page? Here are some of her words:

“Where does our ocean plastic come from? There are two sources for this waste – land-based pollution, such as plastic blown into the sea from a littered beach or washed into the sea by storm water, and ocean-based pollution which comes from garbage disposed of at sea by ships and abandoned and lost fishing gear.”

Leeya: Gosh!! That’s a lot of important information!

Sophia: I agree.         

Leeya: Their mission is to intervene when seals are in distress. They rescue injured, sick or orphaned seals and then rehabilitate and return them to their natural environment within the Cape Peninsula Metropolitan Region.

Sophia: Here is the center:

Leeya: Oooh that looks just as I remember, except the seal pool was empty when we visited as the pump was broken. This is the kind of help the seal center needs.

Leeya: Well that’s it for today, we hope you learned something new.


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