Staff members of the Two Oceans Aquarium have devised a successful method to cut the strap bands, rope, fishing line etc from the necks of seals lying on the decks outside the Aquarium. For some time Assistant Curator, Claire Taylor and Assistant Technical Manager, Vincent Calder, have been working on various methods to deal with these injured seals, the sight of which has distressed Aquarium staff and members of the public. Now Taylor has come up with a method which is proving successful – virtually every day she snorkels beneath the piers where the affected seals are basking in the sun. In many cases she manages to snip the offending rope, wire etc without the seals even being aware of her presence! So far, between them, Taylor and Calder have managed to cut 16 nooses. “We are thrilled that this approach is working – although obviously in some cases the nooses have cut so deeply into the seal’s flesh that it is impossible to cut. Also the seals are wild and sometimes it’s not so easy to catch them unawares” said Taylor. “But I am determined to cut as many nooses as I can and hopefully do this faster than the seals pick them up,’’ she continued.
The Aquarium calls for members of the public to take positive action too – cut a noose and save a life. Concerned individuals are encouraged to raise awareness amongst their friends and colleagues that animals are being killed needlessly by packaging materials. Anything which is a ‘’noose’’ has the potential to strangle animals even the plastic loops on milk bottles! These items should be cut before being thrown away. Another positive step is to make a donation to the Wildlife Unit of the SPCA which deals with injured wild animals including seals and desperately needs funding.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has regularly been criticised by members of the public for not ‘’doing something’’ and ‘’not caring’’ about the injured seals which lie on the decks outside the Aquarium. “In the past we have always informed the public that we do not have the experience or necessary equipment and space to deal with these animals and that the best we can do is contact MCM or the SPCA who will try and send someone out. We are extremely pleased that Claire’s approach is working and that we are now able to do something positive to help these animals’’ said Dr Garratt, Managing Director of the Two Oceans Aquarium.