Date: February 26, 2007
Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
Mumkin Takes The Final Swim
Mumkin on the 23 November 2005 (two days before Christmas)
was found fifty percent below his average weight, all
alone, wet and starving to death. Seagulls sensing his end
was near started pecking away at his shiny back pupils, and
an abscess had formed in his left side cheek, as a result.
Bart the wildlife photographer called from the location, a
small seal colony 250 km away from Hout Bay, and was not
sure whether to rescue him or leave him. I said bring -
knowing that with this gesture, will go an entire year of
my life and many thousands of rands.
Mumkin arrived, days old, looking very sorry for himself.
He was indeed lucky, for although only a handful of pups
are born on this ancient seal colony (where before they
reach the age of three months - none would have survived),
the colony today consists of dead or dying graveyards of
seals. Where archaeological digs revealed further, that the
Khoi-San tribes 10 000 years ago, prized these pups, as the
meat to fat ratio was optimal - whilst living in a cave
directly above. To me, what is of immense importance, is
the genes of this ancient colony, that Mumkin might carry
Above the awash rocks off Hout Bay, its seal colony and on the right the harbour
Mumkin was brought to Hout Bay Harbour, and on the pier
closest to the ocean (near the middle, that dot off the
pier) became his new floating island home. Thanks to Beauty
Without Cruelty and Seal Supporters from around the world,
Mumkin took up residency in his new floating catamaran and
rafts, with two other rescued siblings. Free to leave at
any stage, totally unconfined - Mumkin chose to stay, and
adopted me as his new mom. Where slowly we would teach each
other what he needed to survive.
As Mumkin slowly grew, (sadly the other two siblings were
not so lucky, one that refused to bond (Max) swam out of
the harbour into the open sea on day 103 of his rehab, and
the other (Myrna) grew suddenly weak and died on day 114.
Mumkin at day 153 took his first trip with me to the seal
colony off Hout Bay. In time, he will learn to journey
there mostly at night and return by first light.
Mumkin learning the dangers of the big open sea. From
rescue, for the next year or more, I will diligently
tube-feed Mumkin, beginning at 4 hourly intervals until in
the last stages, two or three feeds a day. Slowly Mumkin
will gather the ability and confidence (mostly at night) to
head out deeper and deeper into the open ocean in search of
his food, and slowly but surely he will practice on his own
Even as he grew, immediately after his tubing, he would
settle down to suckle his edge of his right flipper (as a
replacement for mothers nipple) for hours on end.
Whilst Mumkin used the rafts, boat and pier as his island.
Seal Alert-SA (thanks to the largest fishing company,
Oceania), acquired its seal premises (found by looking at
the short jetty leading off the long pier, directly
opposite the three small boats, tied to the larger orange
one [with two dark squares on roof = Seal Alert-SA Seal
Centre], the small narrow pier running along side the pier)
is to still be developed for seal haul-out and
After 450 days, with not a single day off or break in-between (in fact, it has been like this for eight years), Mumkin has finally shown, he has reached self surviving seal-hood. (Sadly Namibian sealers slaughter these baby seals when just over 200 days old. This is demonstrated by his returning in the early morning, but then refusing or rejecting to be tube-fed - as he has fed himself. Normally, these pups then disappear for above seven months, and upon their return although they acknowledge me, do not answer our unique "call" or allow being picked-up and carried. Although some still maintain the rafts/boat as "their" island, they gradually go wilder and wilder, spending less time in the Hout Bay area. If entangled or hurt, they come back for help.
So Mumkin, we at Seal Alert-SA and its worldwide supporters
have done our bit, the rest is up to you. Go and be wild
and free, at least in some small way we are slowly
balancing the destructive policies that has plagued our
Cape fur seal at this, the very tip of Africa.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
PS - I am sure Mumkin will stay around, as he is still moulting, getting his new and proper winter/waterproof coat - and only time will tell how often or in-frequent we will bump into each other.