Subject: Why South Africa Bans Seals From Islands.
Press Release, November 15, 2006
Dassen Island - March 2005
Dassen Island, the second largest island in southern Africa (between Port Elizabeth on the east coast and Angola on the west coast - 3000 km). At 273 ha it sits between Robben Island and Saldanha Bay (a 200 km stretch of coast). Within this area is the islands of Robben (506ha), Dassen (273ha), Jutten (46 ha), Marcus (11 ha), Malgas (8ha) and Vondeling (21 ha). These 6 islands were all former major seal breeding islands where intensive sealing operations were conducted in the past. These islands are extinct to seals. These island total 865 ha. Between South Africa and Namibia, a total of 36 islands/rocks equally 1000 ha have been protected for Seabirds and Seals under the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act of 1973. These 6 islands therefore present over 85% of the total offshore island land in southern Africa.
Within this 6 island group along a 200 km stretch of west coast. Dassen would account for 30% of the surface area of the 6 islands in this area. Seals are banned from this island. The question is why?
Looking carefully at the picture of Dassen above, if seals were allowed to re-colonise Dassen, would they completely swamp the island? Within this area, there are currently pups being born on Robbesteen (0,3 ha) (between Robben and Dassen), Jacob's Rock (0,3ha) and Paternoster Rocks (2ha), both north of Dassen. Total pups born 4005 in 1997. Based on average pup densities on islands, at 0,5 pups sqm. These 4000 pups, (and using the 4 times the pups to arrive at total population), were all to re-colonise Dassen overnight. The total seal population would occupy less than 1 ha or 0,3% of the island.
So large is this single island, that if all the seals and pups in South Africa, were to recolonise Dassen, a total of 123 000 pups (1997) or 500 000 seals, they would occupy 24 ha or just 9% of this island. Look again at the picture of Dassen (can you visualise 9% of the island being occupied by a seal colony).
Why then are seals banned from Dassen? (Take a closer look)
Do you see that square rock near the waters edge at the point of land at the middle/left of this picture. Now look even closer.
Approximately 11 seals are huddled on this single rock on the edge of this massive island of 273 ha. Notice how they are too afraid to venture onto the island itself.
Why because they get shoot and chased away. Why, because mainstream conservationists want all these islands to be unnaturally exclusive seabird islands. Changing the natural order of things?
To truly understand how cruel and wrong this all is. Understand this. For this massive island, protected for Seals and Seabirds, to be completely void of seals (except the terrified 11), in otherwords extinct to seals, it is as unnatural as the seals with a distribution range of 3000 km, to ignore 35 islands, and all together breed on only one island in a 3000 km range. Something is terribly wrong in the management of a protected seals, when such clear evidence of species "apartheidness" exists so evidently in clear picture.
Why is it so cruel? By banning seals from islands like these, we cause them to pup on inappropriate awash rocks. In so doing, we force up to 40 000 new-born baby seals to wash into the cold sea and drown - annually.
By opening up these islands like Dassen or Robben (seal island named after them). Seals would leave the mainland sealing colonies in Namibia and sealing would end.
We must campaign to have seals be allowed to return to these historic and endemic breeding habitats.
On the 15th November, Namibia has ended its 2006, 85000 baby seal culling season. Now starting on November 15, until end of December, when all baby seal pups are born on offshore rocks in South Africa - the "natural cull" of 40 000 baby seals will be swept away, and either drown or wash ashore to starve to death on some lonely beach somewhere.
The drowned mortalities of baby seal pups from one seal colony, where over 60% drowned within 4 weeks (an annual event)
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA