Leopard seal dies on Long Beach

The leopard seal eating sand.

A leopard seal that landed on Long Beach in Kommetjie last week died on Sunday August 15.

This is the second leopard seal to visit Long Beach this year. The first leopard seal arrived in mid-July and made it back to sea safely.

However, the second one, which arrived on Friday August 13, was not so lucky.

Two Oceans Aquarium wildlife rescuer Brett Glasby said he had confirmed the seal’s death on Sunday. He said it was a female and he had tagged it on Friday and treated it for minor injuries.

“It was in mid-molt but strong and in good condition on Friday,” he said.

He said the carcass had been handed over to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment for an autopsy and the definitive cause of death would be known in a few weeks.

However, he said, it was suspected that the seal had died from a domino stress effect.

He said leopard seals are from Antarctica and are rarely seen on South African shores. They come ashore to rest and eat after the long journey from Antarctica.

The area around the seal was cordoned off after its arrival and Shark Spotters were monitoring public access to it.

Mr Glasby said it was unfortunate that the seal had landed on such a busy beach as it was believed that some beachgoers had taken selfies with it and an unleashed dog had approached it.

“It is a combination of being so far away from home, in mid-molt, probably never having seen a human and so much activity around it which caused it too much stress,” he said.

He said while Shark Spotters had tried their best to keep the public away from it, some people had been more “insistent” than others.

Shark Spotters’ Sarah Warries confirmed that the spotters had struggled to keep the public away from the seal.

“They did struggle with some people and unleashed dogs. While most people were compliant, some people were difficult,” she said.

Lieze Swart, a marine technician from Milkwood Park, said eating sand was “definitely a sign of stress”.

She said leopard seals were usually very aggressive and beachgoers had been lucky that the seal had been tired and weak from a lack of food.

“We want to warn members of the public to keep their distance in the future. Leopard seals are wild animals and are extremely aggressive, and serious injuries could have occurred,” she said.