Mumkin Takes the Final Swim into Seal-Hood
From: sasealion@wam.co.za
Date: February 26, 2007


Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
Mumkin Takes The Final Swim
into Seal-Hood


 

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 inside him.


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 catching it.

 

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 disentanglement.
 
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.