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Young seal deaths probed

akkreditasie

Tests are still being conducted, but the Western Cape government hopes to have answers about seal mortality around the coast by Friday.

According to Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, tests are being conducted to find the cause of young seal deaths the past month, from Kommetjie to Elands Bay.

“The testing is taking a while longer than previously expected and the results are now expected by Friday this week,” he explained on Tuesday. “We hope then to have clearer answers relating to the seal deaths we are seeing across the province.”

Sea Search, a group focusing on scientific research and conservation of marine mammals along the coast of South Africa and Namibia, has monitored the situation since the first reports appeared. It said deaths among yearlings were not uncommon, although the number of deaths and the state of the yearlings, which are thin and weak, are concerning.

Although the public is helping to report the deaths more information is needed about the situation north of Lamberts Bay. “High death rates on the West Coast,” the team said this week, “but North of City of Cape Town the reporting is harder and we have zero idea what’s happening north of Lamberts Bay. This is a gap which should be addressed. Help [would be] appreciated.”

Bredell urged the public to stay away from any seals that have washed up on beaches and to keep dogs away from dead or injured seals. Any seal stranded, whether dying or dead, should be left alone.

Visit http://seasearch.co.za to find out how to help the Sea Search team.

. The outbreak of Avian Influenza among wild seabirds in the Western Cape continues, with Dyer Island in the Overberg continuing to be the biggest problem area.

According to Bredell, the numbers of birds dying continues to drop, with fewer than 100 dead birds reported per day at the time of writing.

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