Selso the seal to head out to sea soon

Selso is fattening up for release into the Agulhas current 

There was a meeting of the minds at uShaka Sea World recently to decide on the future of Selso, a young southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) currently undergoing rehabilitation at the facility. 

Mike Meyer of Oceans and Coasts (Department of Environmental Affairs), Nico de Bryn (University of Pretoria) and Greg Hofmeyr of BayWorld, all of whom have vast experience in marine mammal management, met with SAAMBR CEO Judy Mann and the uShaka Sea World veterinary and animal care team to discuss Selso’s future. After a lengthy discussion it was decided that Selso is to be released when he achieves his goal weight.

Due to his compromised condition after stranding on a lower South Coast beach in June this year, uShaka Sea World staff estimated Selso's age to be about seven months. However, Nico, who has considerable experience working with elephant seals in the Southern Ocean, confirmed Selso to be approximately 22 months old.

At this age he should have weighed 180kg to 200kg, but tipped the scales at just on 70kg. However, thanks to the attentions of his carers at uShaka Sea World, today Selso weighs in at a hefty 130kg. 

The seal is expected to begin his annual moult quite soon, which will lessen his appetite. Once the moult is over he will once again feed more vigorously, putting away 12kg of tasty meals every day.

With his big, dark eyes and cute face, Selso has endeared himself to his uShaka Sea World carers

The 12kg comprises squid, hake and pilchards, divided into four equal portions and offered at three-hourly intervals between 8am and 5pm.

Selso will be released at sea into the Agulhas current when he reaches 180kg. The current will provide a rich source of food for the seal, fitted with a satellite tag to track and transmit his movements. 

So, while many of the humans at uShaka Sea World continue to watch their waistlines, Selso is piling on the kilos as fast as possible, much to their envy!

Southern elephant seals live in frigid Antarctic waters where they feed primarily on fish and squid. Although the seals breed on land, they choose to live near the Antarctic pack ice.

Despite their impressive size, elephant seals are named for the males' inflatable, trunk-like snout. When fully grown, a male elephant seal may measure six metres in length and weigh up to 4 000kg. Elephant seals have the capacity to dive to 1 500m, and remain underwater for up to two hours at a time.

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