Two seal yearlings that were rehabilitated at the Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre were released back into the wild today, 27 February 2023.
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Both yearlings were malnourished when they first arrived at the rehabilitation centre and weighed under 8kg, which is only 40% to 50% of what they should weigh at their age.
It is essential for seal yearlings to have enough fat reserves to withstand the cold temperature of the ocean; they burn calories faster while trying to stay warm, and they can’t dive deep or long enough without sufficient fat reserves to catch adequate food to survive.
“At our centre we work hard to rehabilitate seals many of which are suffering from gross starvation which we keep until they are once again healthy and strong enough to survive out in the cold harsh wild ocean.”
The Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre was founded in 1999, and its main focus is to rescue and rehabilitate Cape fur seal pups and yearlings and integrate them back into their natural seal colonies in Hout Bay, which is on Duiker Island. They have a volunteer team that goes out to capture seals in need and bring them to the centre for care.
The dehydrated seals are treated right away, and are fed through tubes at regular times throughout the day and night to make sure they have food. Where necessary, they request veterinary assistance. They have a large water enclosure in the centre, where the seal pups can safely enter and learn to swim until they are fully strong, healthy and able to fend for themselves in the large ocean. The length of assistance and recuperating time varies for each young pup, ranging from 6 months to a year.
Watch: Could the Clifton attack have been avoided, was the seal provoked?
Picture: Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre