WATCH | Cape Town harbor diesel fuel spill affects over 30 seals
- More than 30 Cape Fur Seals have been affected by diesel spills at Hout Bay Port in Cape Town.
- The SPCA managed to treat two of the seals, the others managed to swim to safety.
- An investigation into the causes of the spills is currently underway.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA responded to a frantic call from the Port of Hout Bay earlier this week after diesel fuel spills filled parts of the harbour, affecting more than 30 Cape fur seals.
SPCA spokesman Jaco Pieterse said upon arriving at the scene, a Spill Tech crew was in the water trying to contain the diesel fuel and mop up the excess.
“It looked like two of the yearling seals were affected. The adult seals will usually know to avoid getting too close to oily, smelly things, so we weren’t too worried about them, but the babies haven’t yet learned to stray and swim in toxic oil,” Pieterse said.
Oil spills in the port of Hout Bay.
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“We had to wash two yearling seals. However, the wild population was also affected.”
Formally trained in oiled wildlife response, Trainee Inspector Bryan Arendse and Wildlife Officer Jon Friedman also made their way to the Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre.
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The SPCA said they requested assistance from the Southern African Coastal Bird Conservation Foundation (SANCCOB) who arrived on the scene with the right soaps and Savlon, and together quickly got to work.
One of the Cape Fur Seals affected by diesel fuel spills in Hour Bay Harbour.
“Diesel can be extremely caustic to exposed skin and although seals have thick fur, their eyes, fins, nose and tail are exposed. It is toxic to seals and wildlife, but more so to birds. Diesel, in particular, burns the skin and can have serious health consequences, such as respiratory infection and other skin problems.” said the SPCA.
After the yearlings were rounded up, cleaned and bathed, the seals seemed happy to relax around the pool at the rescue center recovering from their ordeal.
Diesel fuel spills spill into Hout Bay Harbour, affecting more than 30 seals.
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“Seal Center staff will be keeping a close eye on any seals showing signs of contamination or distress over the next few days,” the SPCA added.
Investigations are underway to find the origin of the oil spill and ensure those responsible are held accountable under the Living Marine Resources Act 18 of 1998.