A recent oil spill at the Hout Bay harbour saw worry about the colony of Cape fur seals who reside nearby.
Following the alert call, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA reports that they were quick to action, activating trained inspectors in Oiled Wildlife Response to the scene. Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse, Wildlife Officer Jon Friedman and trainee inspector Bryan Ardense headed to the Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre and confirmed signs of oil believed to be from a diesel boat.
A team from Spill Tech were also present and busy at work containing the diesel oil and mop-up operations.
Luckily most of the seals knew not to get caught up in the diesel toxins. “Adult seals will generally know to avoid getting too close up to the oily, smelly stuff so we weren’t too worried about them,” explained the Cape of Good Hope. However, concerns were centred around two younger seals who had not learnt to steer clear of the sludgy produce yet.
The yearlings (seals between 1-2 years) were found swimming through the toxins.
Help was requested from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds who came armed with the correct soaps and Savlon to get the young seals cleaned up.
VIDEO: Seal clean-up operation
After a deep clean, the seals lounged around the Rescue Centre’s pool while staff monitored them for any signs of contamination.
As for the oil spill’s origins, the Cape of Good Hope expresses that investigations are firmly underway to find the origins and those involved.
According to the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, otters and fur seals are some of the most vulnerable marine mammals when it comes to oil. When their fur becomes oiled and matted, it prohibits the animals’ way of warming itself, which can lead to death by hypothermia. Additionally, ingesting the oil can cause illness or death. Breathing in the harmful oil fumes is also particularly dangerous. Diesel in particular can also burn the animals’ skin, causing horrible health implications.