The City of Cape Town and SPCA have expressed outrage at the ongoing public harassment of a seal on Strand Beach that resulted in the seal attacking a visitor and the death of the animal.
The City says after days of repeated harassment, an adult seal eventually attacked and bit a visitor who walked into the seal on the beach late on Wednesday evening, 18 October 2023 after not seeing the animal.
After the attack, the woman was taken to hospital by paramedics where her bite wound was treated.
The City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Eddie Andrews, says over the last few days, this seal was simply trying to rest on the beach, but it had stones and rocks thrown at it, was prodded with sticks, had dogs attack it and many members of the public tease it so that they can take footage of it chasing them.
Andrews has warned beach goers that it is illegal to harass any coastal wildlife and the responsibility rests with the public to keep their distance.
On Thursday morning, the City’s Coastal Management and Law Enforcement teams closed a portion of the beach so that the SPCA Wildlife Unit with the help of Coastal Management, could safely capture and remove the seal.
The seal was transported by the SPCA to the Two Oceans Aquarium for assessment by their wildlife veterinarian to get a health clearance for release at a safe location away from people, but the animal died from the excessive stress.
Andrews says this sad outcome could have been avoided.
‘We ask that all residents and beach goers in Cape Town leave these animals in peace should they come across them. This is sadly a very common outcome when seals are stressed through harassment or capture and is the main reason why DFFE, the City and the SPCA do not capture and relocate them as the mortality rate due to stress of capture is very high.’