Date: August 24, 2006
Dear All Seal Supporters,
I implore you to please consider the importance of what I place now before you. When people start to get increasingly bitten and eaten by sharks and still logic does not prevail. You know things have gone too far. This can be addressed right now and stopped - but I need each of you to understand it and then act upon it.
If there was a logical explanation for this decades old perpetual cruelty, perhaps I might understand it. If it was to protect seabirds or keep seal numbers down - why not then just restrict them to a few proper larger islands - instead of these awash rocks. All told there is no explanation. If you know of another species, that is free wildlife, protected nationally and internationally, where millions has cruelly died subjected to this 'unnatural' cruelty, by a government policy, that has never admitted it, but instead claims it is natural - then please ignore this appeal. If not then you should act - as they are voiceless.
It took a few days and many phone calls but finally. In the interests of all, the Argus Newspaper today printed the above story. (see attached letter of this story)
Dr John Little of WWF-SA admitted yesterday in an hour long phone call with myself, that WWF through a scientific research by the Witwatersrand University did a study which lead to the policy of legalising the permitting and feeding of white sharks for the cage diving industry in South Africa. When I asked Dr Little why his head of Marine Conservation, Dr Deon Nel ran away from me and refused to be interviewed by me for a one-minute slot on a 50/50 Wildlife program. He replied, "the film-crew had high-jacked WWF and that Seal Alert-SA was seen as a competitor, and that with (800 million annual) funding have insufficient funding or experts on seals".
I would write to Sanlam Life Insurers who sponsor WWF-SA's Marine Conservation Programs http://www.wwf.org.za/marine.htmand ask them how they can be a party to this cruelty or members of the public being now attacked and eaten alive - http://www.sanlam.co.za/eng/contactus/contactdetails/contact+details.htm
Try to get an official policy letter - Does Sanlam support the chumming, baiting and feeding of white sharks which could be the cause behind members of the public getting increasingly attacked and eaten alive in the Cape? Do they support the restricting of seals to small awash offshore rocks, which causes their extinction, mass annual drowning and are victims of spectacular white shark aerial predations? Do they support the intentional destruction of the Cape fur seals? Are they willing to accept liability if it can be proven that white shark feeding leads to attacks on bathers - so that 11 shark cage diving operators can make some money?
When international Wildlife Conservation organizations start advising the public that to go deeper than waist-height in the sea is an extreme sport and advise all sea users to be safe, purchase electronic shielding devices at R2500 a pop - then you know things are out of control. http://www.capeargus.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=137&fArticleId=3404284. What we have in the making will make Peter Benchley's JAWS look like childs play.
It helps little to end the Namibian Baby Seal Cull - if in the end the Seals still have nowhere to go or cannot return to their islands. Hence the importance. The below info I have sent out before, but nobody reacted or did anything. I have also taken the time to re-write it very simply and clearly. The more you respond - the more reactions we are likely to get. It would be great if the media could expose this, either locally or overseas - so pick up your phones and ask them.
Put a single hour aside for this, make the calls and write the emails, you will be amazed at how effective you can be.
Remember, opening up the islands in South Africa will give the Namibian mainland seals being illegally culled a safe place to escape to - which in the end will end sealing in Namibia.
PS - Dont forget to sign the http://www.petitiononline.com/STASH06/petition.html and to send your $1 to Seal Alert-SA, Box 221, Hout Bay, South Africa, 7806.
Nationally Sponsored Extreme
In 1971 - there was 80 495 Cape fur seal pups born on offshore islands over 4000 km in southern Africa. 26 years later. In 1997 - there was 72 240 seal pups being born. Every year over 80 000 seals perished, mostly baby seals. Here is why.
In South Africa - nature wanted the seals to live and bred on offshore islands. Proper large and safe islands for breeding. Smaller islands or rocks to be used for resting during migration on foraging fishing trips. These islands are still there uninhabited and even protected. The islands and the seal populations upon them should be 4% east coast, 85% west coast, 11% Namibia. Ignore Namibia and its mainland sealing issue for now. Lets just focus on east and west coast of South Africa. The reason its where 89% of the islands are situated.
East coast : Seals should be naturally breeding on 44 ha or 11 islands. Instead they have been restricted to 5 islands or 8 ha. Below is what this physically means.
The red circle in the top left
is the rock seals are restricted to, the other two are
banned and extinct -
on the right pic, a 20ha island and a 3 ha island separated by a narrow channel
In the above two east coast examples. I ask you to please imagine you are a seal. The pic on the left, in 1971 had 1702 pups born there (red circle), 30 years of suffering, where every year pups born there were washed away and drowned, in 1997 there were only 142 pups born. A 92% decline. Extinction has currently occurred. The 1702 female cow seals would have wanted to have their pups on the bigger safer larger islands in the pics, but conservation officials stationed on the island - bans, chases or shoots any seal attempting to do so. Every year since 1971, these seals would have tried, and were prevented.
There is not a single scientific paper stating why this should have become a national policy.
The pic on the right. Seals are restricted to the smaller 3 ha rock. Banned from other surrounding islands. This colony has grown from 2679 in 1971, to 11 184 in 1997. The pic below is this island. The growth in not from within the colony, but seals continuously being banned from other colonies. Seals are not allowed to swim across the channel to the 20 ha island. Any seal attempting to do so is chased away or shot. Historically his 20 ha Island called Dyer, was named after a sealer who killed over 25 000 seals in one year in 1725. Today it is banned to seals.
Above pic, is the type of habitat these cows are expected to give birth to their pups who cant swim or are waterproofed for 6 weeks from birth. 90% of the pups are born in December.
These unnaturally forced breeding colonies rise no more than 4 m above sea-level. Strong gale force winds blow on-shore and waves of 5 m, like in the pic above pound and completely submerge these breeding colonies - hour after hour for weeks on end. Can anything survive in these conditions, let alone a new born baby seal who cant swim? This is what it means to be a protected CITES appendix II seal in South Africa.
3 of these 5 island seal colonies since 1991 have become internationally famous for white shark cage diving. Where thousands of tourists, pay up to a R1000 a trip to experience an encounter with a white shark. The thrill of seeing these shark breech the water as they hunt 'naturally' the seals thrills all. All believing this is just one big natural spectacular marine event. The sharks are there because of the annual washing and drowning of this easy constant supply of seal meat.
The bay in the pic below is known as False Bay. The small circle is the Seal Island 2 ha. The big red circle is Robben (seal) island, 250-times larger, 576 ha. Along the beach and to the left of (small red circle), since 2000, at least two people have been eaten alive, at least two have lost their legs, young surfing children and many others attacked, the last a young life saver directly opposite the seal colony - lost his leg. Over half a million baby seals have either drowned, washed ashore or been eaten by sharks in the past 30 years. 100 years ago there were no seals on Seal Island in False Bay,it was a seabird island.
Robben (Seal) Island above and below (the big red circle), is less than 150 km easy seal swim distance away - a daily seals swim distance. This is the type of islands these pups should be born on. Instead it has been extinct for over 200 years. Banned to these rocks where the cage diving activity now takes place. If all the seals in South Africa and Namibia were allowed to re-colonise just this one island - Robben. They would occupy all of them 6% or if only along the seashore 21% of this islands coastline.
The same gale force winds that prevail at 40-60 km in December, which create on-shore massive waves and storm conditions - blow offshore on the west coast. On the west coast, these winds, flatten the sea like glass, and 85% of the islands lie off the west coast within 200 km of each other. 14 islands of in total 934 ha. 11 of the largest is banned and extinct to seals. 3 ha is all seals have, see conditions below.
On the left, 576 ha Robben
(seal) island extinct - On the right 0.1 ha Paternoster
Rocks (a thousand times smaller)
In June, when pups are 6 months, the revise happens, the west coast becomes known as the 'Cape of Storms' where winds blow onshore with massive waves. Can you just imagine what it must be like trying to live, rest and stay dry on the small rock in winter. With waves metres high pounding this area, covering it in white water constantly, every minute of every hour for weeks on end.
These are the total conditions, no exceptions - authorities and conservationists expect our protected seals to have lived under since 1940. The only alternative for a Cape fur seal - is the mainland sealing colonies.
Do you all clearly now understand how unnatural this all is? If seals were just allowed on the Unesco World Heritage Site - Robben (seal) Island, it would save 100 000 seals from suffering and dying in the most terrible of ways. Instead South Africa says its natural and everybody believes them.
Do you further understand, that there is absolutely not a single scientific or conservation reason -why seals should be banned from these islands and restricted to just 2%. If they weren't and things were natural - do you also understand there would be no white shark cage diving, no chumming, baiting and feeding of sharks around these restricted rock seal colonies?
Do you also realise that possibly, nobody would have then been eaten in False Bay, lost limbs or been attacked by sharks. The worst is still to come regarding attacks on humans.
Do you know, who is behind seals being banned from these proper former breeding islands - WWF, and do you know it was WWF, who convinced South African government to legalise white shark cage diving and permit shark chumming and feeding. Do you also know Sanlam Life Insurer, one of South Africa's largest life insurers is WWF biggest marine financial contributors?
I have sent the below before, but hopefully in context it will make more sense now. Is this the kind of Marine Conservation Sanlam has sponsored via WWF?
Attaching the email below again. Write to Sanlam their details are at the top of this email.
Spot the Criminal 'Feeding'
Offence in South Africa ?
Whilst members of the public continued to be attacked by white sharks who eat people or their limbs - City Shark Group has been working for over a year on the solution.
Scientist at Marine and Coastal Management, Dr Herman Oosthuizen of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism - "White shark cage diving is basically that you can guarantee sightings of white sharks and for the operators to be able to do that they have to chum and bait otherwise they will not be able to guarantee sightings of white sharks and there will be no white shark cage diving industry".
In 2001, white shark cage diving operators were made to sign a "code of conduct";
◦ Should the permit holder not perform during the period for which this permit is valid, fails to make any attempt to utilize the permit to attract white sharks can result in this permit being withdrawn.
◦ This permit authorises the permit holder to attract white sharks by means of chumming and baiting.
◦ The permit holder shall use only natural fish. The bait shall not exceed 25 kg per day. No mammals (including seals, whales or dolphins may be used as bait).
◦ Artificial lures to attract white sharks is not allowed.
In 2000, whilst the seal population was experiencing its 5th mass die-off from starvation, where between one third and one half of the seals were washing ashore. Marine and Coastal Management introduced a regulation which now made it a Criminal Offence to feed a seal. The next day, thousands of seal pups started washing ashore in False Bay, an area where at least two people since have been eaten by white sharks and at least two more have lost limbs and many more attacked.
In 2003, Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA was arrested and criminally charged for "tube-feeding" a seal pup he had rescued several months earlier.
Officials were in out-cry that seals needing rescue were being fed. This is some of their comments;
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's policy on wild animals. In 2003 Deputy Director of MCM Horst Kleinscmidt wrote - "Seals are wild animals, like lions, baboons or leopards. We believe they should be treated accordingly. We do not allow feeding of baboons at Cape Point or animals in the Kruger Park. Feeding of wild animals is detrimental in any environment. It creates dependency, distorts their natural behaviour and generally leads to aggression towards humans".
In 2000, Managing Director of Two Oceans Aquarium EA Fearnhead wrote, "the continuing reports of wild fur seals being hand-fed is of considerable concern. It is well-known and documented that regardless of the animal species involved in such incidents, the end results are usually the same: the animal either becomes dependent on being fed or expects to be fed. If such feeding doesn't happen the animal will often "attack" approaching humans ... the SPCA has my full support, and I know they will also have that of the professional conservation bodies, to have this feeding of seals stopped as soon as possible".
Dr Jeremy David and former Specialist Scientist, head of Marine Mammal research at MCM wrote,"feeding wild animals is a thoroughly bad practice. It's like feeding baboons. The seals become semi-tame and there is every chance they will become aggressive". In 1999, Mike Meyer of MCM wrote, "you just don't feed wild animals. They lose their fear of man". Dr Hamish Currie once described by MCM's as their seal rehabilitation expert, wrote in 2000, "Anyone who feeds seals in a harbour has rocks in his head".
The latest victim a False Bay Life Saver lost his leg to a white shark directly opposite the seal colony in False Bay.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA