Entangled seals and dolphins

Marine pollution is a great problem for the world’s oceans. Every week The ORCA Foundation have beach clean ups around Plettenberg Bay to decrease the amount of marine pollution input. This is helping to keep Plettenberg Bay’s water clean, but we still see the effect humans have on the marine mammals weekly when visiting the Seal colony on Robberg Peninsula. On most trips with Ocean Blue Adventures we stop at the colony to see the seals up close. What we also see on a weekly basis are one or more seals with some form of fishing equipment wrapped around or on them. It’s everything from ropes, nets, toys, plastic rings to hooks and fishing line. Together with the Great White Sharks, what humans leave in the ocean is the greater killer of them.

Like most animals, seals are curious and inspect what’s around them. They are the dogs of the sea and will swim up to drift nets and long lines to see what it is or to find an easy meal instead of hunting. Most time they do this they get entangled and will drown on the spot. The seals that don’t get badly entangled will bring pieces of net back to the colony and later die of either starvation or strangulation. Estimation in the 1980’s was that only 1% of fur seals get entangled, but with the frequency of sightings of entangled animals at the colony a new estimate need to be made.

As prevention, there is a lot of fisherman’s bins put up around popular fishing spots in the Plettentberg Bay area for the fishermen to leave their used line in. The lines will be recycled, instead of left on the beach/rocks to be washed out to sea. Also around the world, beach clean ups happen to decrease the amount of marine pollution.

It is not as common to see live whale and dolphins with fishing gear wrapped around them, most get so entangled that they die from it straight away. The Bottlenose dolphin in this photo is a are capture of a live dolphin having nylon wrapped around it’s head. What’s seen all over the world is that some stranded animals have some form of entanglement, marks or scars.

So what can be done. First of all, whatever you bring to the beach or river, bring it back home and recycle it. Second, when you see trash that others have left behind or see someone leave trash, pick it up or ask them to pick it up.

The ORCA Foundation

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