17.3 C
Mossel Bay
29th November 2023
Nature & NurtureTourism & Travel

Marine animals in distress during Season

It is the time of the year that our beautiful coastal areas receive so many inland visitors that come to enjoy our pristine beaches and all that the area has to offer. It is also a time that the volunteers of S.M.A.R.T are extremely busy!
Seal Pups: The Cape Fur Seal calving season happens from October to January annually and because of Seal Island in Mossel Bay being so close to shore, many seal pups get washed off the rocks annually due to high seas or stormy weather. The new born pups cannot swim yet and if they get swept off the rocks into the ocean, they float in currents to the beaches packed with holidaymakers. Please do not try to save a pup. Pups become panic stricken by the sight of humans and will instinctively try to return to the water, which may cause drowning. If you find one on the beach, do not handle the pup in any way at all. Don’t try to feed it; don’t place it in a cooler box with ice; and don’t pour water over the pup. Seals are also protected by law and any attempt to “keep” a seal pup will be punished accordingly.
Sea turtles: Because of warmer sea temperatures, a steady increase of sea turtles during November to March have been experienced. Sea turtles can inflict nasty bites and should not be handled by inexperienced people. All turtles should be reported and NO turtle should be returned to the water. They might by suffering from illnesses which are treatable.
Penguins: African Penguins frequent our coastline and in Summer they undergo a moult stage. That causes them to end up on beaches, scared, hungry and tired. Please do not try to take them back into the ocean and remember that penguins are flightless birds. (A couple of years ago there were people who found a penguin on a beach in Mossel Bay and kept throwing the bird into the air hoping it would fly!) The Seabird and Penguin Rehab Centre (SAPREC) in Mossdustria, outside Mossel Bay, rehabilitates seabirds and, particularly, the African Penguin. The centre has been operational for the past 14 years and is run by Carol Walton and a team of volunteers. During the holiday season, visitors are welcome to attend the feeding of the penguins at the centre where they are fed twice daily. Only small groups will, however, be allowed and arrangements have to be made beforehand by contacting Carol Walton on 082 364 3382. Various collection boxes, as well as pamphlets with more information about SAPREC are available at outlets around Mossel Bay.
Other Seabirds: Cormorants sitting on a beach close to people can sometimes be confused as sick or injured. Please leave them alone as the stress of capturing them can cause them to die. If any oiled birds or entangled birds are seen, please report. If a seabird with a fishing hook is found, please do not try to remove the hook!
Sea-stars, octopus and other organisms living in tidal pools: Every year hundreds of tidal pool inhabitants are killed because of a lack of understanding about the delicate ecology that they exist in. Admire, take a photo and leave them in their pools please! When collecting octopus as bait, just cut off a tentacle, it will grow back and by doing this, there will be enough left to collect for the next couple of years.
Enjoy your holiday but always be aware of marine animals that might be in distress. Also help to keep our beaches and oceans clean. Contact S.M.A.R.T at 072 227 4715 for marine animal emergencies or SAPREC 082 364 3382 for penguins on beaches or injured seabirds.

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