An unexpected visitor made its way on to Onrus Beach over the weekend and the public are being asked to keep clear of the Southern Elephant Seal.
The Overstrand Municipality’s Environmental Department was alerted and the animal was cordoned off. The Greater Overberg Stranding Network will monitor the situation.
Meredith Thornton, National Stranding co-ordinator of the South African Stranding Network, confirmed that this marine mammal, by the name of Buffel, is no stranger to South African shores.
She said the elephant seal has previously been seen at Duiker Island, Cape Point and Fish Hoek Beach, where he has hauled out in order to undergo his annual moult. “We can recognise Buffel by the scar above his left eye (he seems to be blind in that eye) and the yellow tag on one of his hind flippers is numbered 16577.”
It is difficult to say how long he will stay on the beach – he may hang around for an extended period if left undisturbed, or he may even leave after a day or so.
If people want to visit the beach in order to observe the seal, it is fine to do so, just as long as they keep their distance and leave it in peace. This means keeping dogs on leash, children under control, being quiet and staying 20m away, outside of the barrier tape. It is important not to get between the seal and the water, or between the water and its resting spot. It is a wild animal and common sense needs to prevail.