seals western cape

Photo: Facebook / Sea Search

Nearly 200 seals buried on Tuesday as investigation into high mortality continues

Nearly 200 seals were buried in the Western Cape on Tuesday. The provincial government is investigating the cause of death of the animals that have been washing up dead at an alarming rate over the last few weeks.

seals western cape

Photo: Facebook / Sea Search

Authorities in the Western Cape are worried about the alarming number of seal deaths recently. Nearly two hundred animals were buried on Tuesday, 9 November and hundreds more reportedly died over the past weekend.


The Western Cape MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, said the provincial government is investigating the seal deaths – the first reports of the higher than normal mortality rate emerged in September, according to the Mail and Guardian when malnourished-looking cape fur Seals washed ashore in Paternoster, Shelly Beach and Elands Bay.

Bredell said the department has ruled out the possibility that the seal deaths could be linked to avian influenza. However, the official report on the matter is only expected later this week. The early investigation leads the authorities to believe malnutrition is the reason for the high mortality, said Bredell on Tuesday.

“The dying seals are not linked to the avian influenza outbreak. Rather it appears that the seals are dying due to malnutrition.

“The situation is still being investigated. In addition, we are urging the public not to feed any seals despite the concerns about malnutrition,” said Bredell.

Bredell’s department said 144 seals were buried at Laaiplek and Dwarskersbos and another 50 at Elandsbaai on Tuesday, 9 November, according to News24.

Dr Tess Gridley, the co-director of Sea Search Rescue and Conversation, told SABC News that the non-governmental organisation also suspects that seal deaths could be linked to malnutrition.

“So, we could suspect malnutrition because they are thin, but it’s not clear yet! We have sent samples to the lab and we will wait three months.

“Samples were sent to check whether its avian flu and results came back and they were cleared from that. Sometimes it’s easy for people to get to the shoreline and see dead birds and seals and want to link the two together,” said Gridley.

The State Veterinary Service is preparing the report that the provincial government is awaiting. While seal deaths at this time of year can be expected, it is unusual to see them die at this rate – the Sea Search NGO says that hundreds of the animals died over the weekend.