70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

By: Ann Kunz

On Friday morning ( 12th February) we awoke to messages informing us of a beached elephant seal on Gavies beach which in on the Bluff, Durban.  Our first thoughts were bewilderment at the arrival of yet another arctic seal visitor so close to Ragnar’s arrival. 

Then to more practical thoughts of how to relocate a 130-kilogram seal from Gavies beach to uShaka Sea World.  Members of the Metro Search & Rescue, SAPS Search and Rescue NSRI and Ethekwini lifeguards once again came to the rescue and transported the seal to uShaka Sea World.

His arrival caused quite a dilemma as all the available rehabilitation pools were already occupied and we were uncertain whether he would be able to peacefully share Ragnar’s enclosure.  He was visually examined in his transport crate and then left to rest and recover from his ordeal whilst the seal and animal health teams set about researching artic seal behaviour. It was clearly evident that he had sustained an injury to lower jaw which we hoped was merely a superficial laceration. 

When he looked at the team with his big dark pleading eyes, it seemed appropriate to call him Dobby after the house elf in Harry Potter.

Over the weekend once we learned from seal expert, Greg Hoymeyer that it would be in order to place the two Antarctic seals together, we introduced Dobby to Ragnar.  It was Ragnar who seemed genuinely pleased at the arrival of a companion.  Dobby merely rested on the side of the pool, opened and closed his big eyes and seemed oblivious to Ragnars numerous snuggling attempts. 

They were later seen swimming in the pool together and we knew all would be ok.

Dobby will have to remain in our care until he has completed his moult (which can last up to four weeks) Elephant seals don’t usually feed or swim whilst they are moulting and spend the month lying around on the islands sleeping.  Dobby spends his days doing just that, sleeping.

Being true seals both Dobby and Ragnar have signature big dark eyes and snotty noses.