Monday, January 23, 2006 11:01 AM

Dear All Seal Supporters,

The "Spirit of Seal Supporters" Beauty Without Cruelty boat has clearly a "stamp" of "Seal Approval" on it. Still getting their bearings and naturally a little nervous, they just love it. Their first night alone, and my first full nights sleep in 60 days. I can tell you all, I just sank into my pillow.

The 2nd night, there was high anxiety. When I swam out in pitch darkness at 10 pm. I found Myrna, sitting on the boat's side, my sudden appearance out of the water caused her to jump onto the big raft with the other 25 bigger seals sleeping alongside. Nothing I did could persuade her to come closer, eventually I proceeded to try and crawl amongst these wild seals trying to get my hands underneath them and somehow getting a hand on Myrna, as I moved the group moved, and Myrna was dangerously close of falling into the pitch black sea, in pitch darkness. 3 or 4 seals, became protective of her, and challanged me, each time I tried to catch her. Finally, I succeeded and brought Myrna back to the safety of the big boat and her feed, it was close to midnight. Tube feeding a struggling, biting pitch black seal pup on a rolling boat in complete darkness and trying to ensure that I administer the correct quantity of feed, is something I dread having to repeat, I think it is time to get a small generator for some light.

So, perhaps I should explain what is now involved. I get up at 6am, prepare their feed and head down to them at 7am. Swimming across to the raft or launching the jetski, they all get feed at 8am, then its a quick swim, and some family time, lasting at least an hour. Tummies rubbed, massaging and general get-to-know each other. From 9am to 10am, I clean up the boat, wash it down. Between 10 am and 11 am, it is the feeding of the other 25 seals under rehab, their medication, and every other day, spotting an entangled seal amongst the group, sneaking up and trying to free him. Then its getting ready for the next pup feed at 12am. Followed by massaging, swimming and then a ly in the sun. It is now close to 1pm. If possible, I will leave and attempt a 2 hour patrol along the coast on the jetski, visiting the Seal Colony off Hout Bay, looking for any dying, sick, injured or entangled seals. Returning to the boat around 3pm, when there is just enough time to get ready for the next feed, at 4pm. The same massaging etc, then its off to the local fish supplier, to purchase the fish requirements. Offloading the fish boxes, packing them away, and preparing their final feed for the day, back into the wetsuit or drysuit, another swim in the darkness to the raft, and their final feed between 8pm and 10pm, before heading home, washing all the equipment down.

This will go on day in day out for at least the next 6 months, eventually I will expand their tummies to handle 3 litres of fish/water a feed, and then it will be just 2 feeds a day, a morning and a late afternoon feed. Now they need 2kg or 24 pilchard fish a day, to get the fish to flow down the tube, involves liquidising 10 fish with 900 ml of water, which produces, 1.5 litres of fish/water. As each pup can only consume 500 ml at a time, they are only getting 3 fish, at 4 feeds a day, gives them 12 fish. Which is half of what they require. Slowly I will push them to expand their tummies, so that they can get the full 24 fish or 2kg needed per day.

This brings me to a very important thought, and to me it is illustrative how important it is to help fund us. Because with wildlife, all wildlife, their future on this planet, cannot be guarantied through rescue. Just these 3 pups will soon be consuming 15kg of fish per day, in a month 1/2 ton. Seal Alert-SA rescue of just One Seal-a-day, or 365 for the year, will illustrate just our destructive and already harmful we are to our existing wildlife. These are not land mammals with low energy requirements, where for example an average dog requires 700g of food. With 300 000 dying off the coast of southern Africa each year, we should all try and ensure and be extremely carefully, what effect "we" have on the wildlife themselves. What food we eat, how we pollute, should be seriously considered, alternatively our wildlife will just decline and decline, until there is nothing, with rescue not providing the ultimate answer.

The pups sunning themselves

Myrna taking and keen interest in the fighting bulls opposite. Feeding time

Mumkin at his bowl of seawater, he dips his head, sucks water, and then suckles on his left flipper, then his right, alternatively

The 3 muskaflippers, finished their swim, and flipper washing their faces

Love time.

For The Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA