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12 December 2011

Shark alert as dead seal pups wash ashore in Cape

A large number of dead seal pups have washed up along the False Bay coastline, raising fears of increased shark activity.

Some 400 pups dotted the coast on Friday, with 100 seen between Sunrise Circle and Strandfontein Beach, and the rest at Kommetjie Beach, The Cape Times newspaper reported on Monday.

The pups, which are unable to swim on their own, were swept off Seal Island in a strong south-easterly wind.

Shark Spotter Sarah Tipley said while there had been four shark sightings in Muizenberg on Friday, these may not have been as a result of the pups.

“We raised the red flag of course, but we also did not see the sharks scavenging on the seal carcasses.”

Mike Meyer, spokesman for the Oceans and Coast section of the Department of Environmental Affairs, said the influx was due to the south-east wind occurring later this year.

“The female seals recently gave birth and the area where they were born is susceptible to ocean surges from the southern side. The pups have no idea how to swim yet when they are swept away. A lot of people are very worried, but they shouldn't be. This is a natural process.”

He said last year between 15 000 and 18 000 pups had survived at Seal Island.

The city's Disaster Risk Management team said it had deposited the carcasses at Vissershok landfill site.

It said the public should take particular note of the Shark Spotter warnings at this time.

- Times Live