With the Namibian 2006 seal clubbing season ended. Weanlings that fled and escaped still pour into South Africa and its coastline, separated from nursing mothers, these pups strand helpless, starving and unable to fend for themselves. In what must surely be the biggest mass cruelty of marine wildlife of its kind on the planet - Seal Alert-SA, single-handed is struggling to cope with the after-shock.
As many of you know we started last season, with 8 new born baby seals. Sadly Mumkin pictured above sponsored by Team Australia became the sole survivor. After Namibian sealers between July - November, clubbed their way through 85 000 of Mumkin's siblings, and then reported 900 a day were dying of starvation, and the public and media reported hundreds of fleeing pups washing ashore and starving to death. Seal Alert-SA, 1600 km away started getting reports, of weanlings, clearly those still nursing having fled Namibia stranding on our shores. Tens of thousands must have died on the long journey down. Most pups washing ashore were dead. All told perhaps as many as 90% of the pups born or over 200 000 baby seals died in some cruel way over the past 12 months.
What Namibian sealers club to death in a single morning between 5am and 10 am. Would take Seal Alert-SA, 1.3 million hours and 3.6 million rand, to restore and balance this destruction. Sadly, we only saved one, Mumkin - but we were able this past month to save another 11 siblings, (same age as Mumkin). All told, we have saved 12 babies from 2006 season, plus another 400 odd older seals.
With over 45 rescues this past month, with a blind seal in backyard, seals in my boat, seals on my raft and in the harbour. To say I am a little stressed and exhausted is an understatement. Single-handedly feeding, cleaning, preparing and treating 25 seals at the same time in 4 different locations three times a day is a nightmare with 4am to 11pm, still just not enough hours in the day. Fish purchases alone are running at 500 rand every second day. Special mention must be given to Tara, who initially responded to one weanling, then another, and another, and another and thanks to her, little JanTara chased away and separated from his mother at less than 5 days old, from the exclusive Gannet Island colony at Lamberts Bay (250km away), he was hurriedly fetched and brought to Hout Bay. Thanks to South Africa's Department of Marine and Coastal Management's culling/shooing operation on the island, Seal Alert-SA is now loaded with the expense of this enjoyment to ban seals unnaturally from islands.
As Seal Alert-SA enters its 7th season of baby pup rescues. Thanks to all of you, the Spirit of Seal Supporter boat with funding provided by Beauty With Cruelty and their Chair-person Beryl Scott , has now been taken out of the water after the big bulls sunk it. It needed some minor repairs and a new coat of paint, unfortunately time has run out (with no repairs), as over the past six weeks its use has proved invaluable instead in saving many weanlings lives, who needed intensive care.
Swimming every 4 hours to the boat, like last year will kill me. So I have to develop an alternative plan of treating these babies, whilst treating all the other seals at the same time. So I need your help ! Pictured above is the jetty upon where I work and do my rescues. The two rafts are just to the right of the pic (out of view). This year's plan, is to put the boat pictured above with its trailer into the area pictured above and below the main pier. Babies will be rehabbed in the boat like last year, which has its own internal pool.
Due to this being a public pier, on-lookers or vandals will disturb, hurt, stress, harass and even kill the pups, when I am not there. Hence why I worked in the water. I have two options, employ security guards 24-7 (very expensive option to protect the pups in the boat for next 6 - 12 months) or construct a galvanised steel cage around the whole boat to use as a lockable secure area for seal rescue and rehab. I think the cage idea is best. Sadly I need funds. For a crane to lift the boat, the steel cage construction, perhaps a small wooden hut and if possible funding towards fish purchases.
As I have my hands full, I have asked Tara to please co-ordinate the running around to get quotes and the hiring of a crane to lift the boat down. Herbert Henrich of Seashepherd has agreed to administer the technical aspects. Locally if any of you have any contacts who could construct the cage and galvanise it - urgently, like yesterday, as baby pup stranding season has started. Seals are already in my boat parked outside, and with their constant cries neighbours are already moaning.
The cage needs to be constructed of fine diamond steel mess, measuring about (very rough will get exact measurements to those who need it) of 3m by 8m by 4 m (height). The longest I can hold out without it is two weeks, then I am in a crisis.