Ernie Schmidt, NSRI Jeffreys Bay deputy station commander, said: At 08h25 on 3 January 2018, a call was received from a member of the public reporting a stranded seal on the beach at Walskipper, Aston Bay.
NSRI Jeffreys Bay crew Elaine and Ernie Schmidt responded and found a young elephant seal, seemingly in good health, on the beach. As members of the public came to observe the seal, or arriving on the beach to simply to spend their day on the beach, the seal would move toward them, resulting in them having to move away. The public responded positively, respecting the animal’s need for space and an opportunity to rest in peace. After about an hour and a half the animal settled down and slept.
Dr Greg Hoffmeyr of the Animal Stranding Network, Bay World, Port Elizabeth, had already been contacted and he suggested that the the animal should be moved to a quieter area away from the public.
NSRI Jeffreys Bay’s Ernie and Elaine Schmidt remained on the scene making sure that the seal was not bothering anyone and making sure that no domestic animals approached the seal and the public remained very cooperative.
2 members of the public also remained on-site assisting us at the scene.
Dr Hoffmeyr and Nikita Camara, a veterinary intern, arrived at the scene at about 12h10. After briefing us on how to capture the animal, it was caught with the assistance of the doctor, the intern, myself (Ernie) and my wife (Elaine), and with the help of the 2 members of the public.
We transported the seal to a remote beach. At the remote beach, away from the public the seal was tagged and released.
The interesting aspect is that this seal is very young, about one year old. Its natural habitat is in the deep Southern Ocean islands, such as Marrion Island. Some three or four of them are found on our Southern beaches at this time of the year. They apparently moult, discarding their old fur, and then head back South to their home territory. This particular seal already has its new coat of shiny grey/white fur and is likely to leave for it’s home territory soon.
Our thanks to the public for giving the animal space to rest, and a particular word of thanks to the 2 public members who helped us, George and Donovan Bezuidenhout, for their assistance in helping us capturing the animal.
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