The Aquarium's specialist technician, Vincent Calder, has just arrived back at the Aquarium's offices to show staff a mass of nooses, loops and ties removed from a seal in Table Bay Harbour.
Vincent, along with assistant curator Claire Taylor and technician Andre Nieuwoudt, responded to a call from the SPCA, which had been contacted by a gentleman named Gert who was working on a boat on the Duncan Dock repair quay in the harbour. Gert sent the image below to Vincent, and immediately the seal team sprung into action and headed for the site on Aquarium 1, our boat.
Vincent had to creep up slowly, stealthily manoeuvring the boat so that they could get as close to the seal as possible.
"We had to keep an eye on the wind so that he didn't pick up our scent," says Vincent. "Just one bang on the boat and he would have disappeared underwater."
He and Andre had to work quickly and quietly so that they could grab hold of the seal. Vincent managed to hold his flippers while Andre then got his arms around the body.
"We tried to cut the nooses while holding the seal over the side, but then we realised just how many nooses he had [and] so we had to bring him on board," recounts Vincent. While Andre held him down, Claire got to work with a knife, cutting each of the nooses free from the seal's neck.
Although the animal is stressed in this video clip the team worked as quickly as possible, removing the nooses in just a few minutes and saving the seal from continuous discomfort and possibly death by strangulation.
The team successfully managed to free the seal of all the nooses, which included box bands, long-line, tuna rope, an o-ring and a piece of foul-weather gear (looking a bit like a peak cap).
"When we released him back into the water, the seal looked back at us with what seemed to be disbelief at what had just happened," says Claire. Vince, looking hot but relieved, adds, "We were all quite pumped up at the end of it."
The Aquarium staff were horrified – we could not believe that this came off one animal!
"This is preventable," says Jessica Sloan, the Aquarium's graphic designer. "Cut a loop and save a life."
Cutting loops, such as milk bottle seals, before you throw them in the trash can save an animal’s life. Read more here.
This kind of conservation work is made possible thanks to your support. Donate to conservation today.