Cape Town Condemns Brutal Seal Stoning

Monday 9 January 2023 Cape fur seals have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, with the City of Cape Town today condemning the brutal killing of a Cape fur seal yesterday evening at Monwabisi beach.


SLEEPING SEAL: A seal rests at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Photo Julia Fiander / Unsplash

In a statement by the City, officials say that an anonymous tip-off to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and the City’s Law Enforcement led to the arrest of four suspects. The seal had to be humanely euthanised due to the severity of the injuries sustained during a violent stoning of the animal.

The City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews, said it was one of the most brutal attacks on local wildlife in recent times. "One cannot fathom the pain and stress the seal had to endure while this was happening. I am shocked and horrified The seal had to be humanely euthanised due to the severity of the injuries sustained during a violent stoning of the animaland call on the public to please keep on notifying us when they see animals being attacked, harmed or in distress.

Cape Town was fortunate to have a coastline teeming with wildlife, he said. "We need to respect and treasure these animals. We have said it many times before, but I want to remind the public to please keep a safe and respectful distance from marine animals at all times, and to not interfere or feed them.

"Pets should be removed where wildlife are present. Cape Town’s unique location with its pristine coastline and Table Mountain National Park, together with protected areas and nature reserves, requires from all of us to be mindful of our impact on wildlife and to take extra care to live in harmony alongside these creatures," he said.

The incident follows last week's attack on bathers at Clifton by a distressed seal, an attack on two women at Fish Hoek, and a surfer who was hospitalised after being bitten by a seal in Yzerfontein. Witnesses said that the seal had been subjected to various forms of abuse by members of the public. Added to this is scientific research into behavorial changes in Cape fur seals after ingesting a neuro toxin from toxic algal blooms.


SEAL ISLAND: Recent die-offs and odd behaviour are a concern. Photo Martin Clark / Unsplash

In a recent article in the Daily Maverick, Wildlife Management Programme Coordinator of the Two Oceans Aquarium Brett Glasby, who has worked with many seals in his time, said that when seals rest on a beach busy with human activities, the seal is often exposed to harassment by people and dogs. Normally, the seal escapes this stress by simpling swimming away.

However, a chemical called domoic acid ingested via seal prey that has consumed organisms effected by red tide, has been highlighted as the likely cause for seals to decide on the fight over the flight response.

"Towards the end of 2021," Glasby told Daily Maverick, "we saw a mass poisoning event that resulted in numerous seals either dying or aborting their pregnancies."

Domoic acid poisoning causes swelling around the heart and brain, which resulted in death, or long-term side effects, such as cardiac weakness and neurological disorders.

"The most notable effect that has been seen and documented internationally is heightened aggression, a neurological side effect caused by a swelling of the brain," Glasby said.

The City of Cape Town has reminded the public of the following:

  • Do not approach or try and get close to marine and coastal wildlife. Their natural response will be to defend themselves and this may result in aggressive behaviour
  • Always keep a respectful distance between yourself and any wildlife to reduce stress on the wildlife. Move away if approached by wildlife
  • Never try and touch, or pose with, any marine and coastal wildlife. This places both you and the wildlife at risk of potential harm
  • Keep dogs under control by keeping them on a leash and well away from all wildlife at all times. Remove pets immediately from any place where coastal wildlife are present
  • Never try and feed any marine and coastal wildlife
  • Do not support the illegal feeding of wildlife for show, such as the seals at the fishing harbours. This is an illegal activity and must not be supported financially, or otherwise

In case of any injured, hurt, or coastal wildlife in distress, kindly contact the City on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone, or 107 from a landline. The appropriate response will be initiated to assist the animal. Members of the public are urged not to act on their own and without authority.