A baby seal was seen this Friday morning July 1 in the lagoon of Trou-d’Eau-Douce near the landing stage. The little animal did not fail to attract the inhabitants of the locality who have never seen a seal in real life. If this is not the first time that seals have washed up in our lagoons, it is certainly not an ordinary event.
Alerted, elements of the National Coast Guard in the region, officers from the Fisheries Protection Service as well as a team of scientists, assigned to the Albion Fisheries Research Center (AFRC) were summoned to the scene for a report. The assistance of Hugues Vitry of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society was also requested. So told us Deven Anacootee, Communications Advisor at the Ministry of Blue Economy.
“According to the first observation, the marine mammal is tired, but it is in good health. Li plays in the water,” Deven Anacootee tells us.
“We are monitoring the situation closely. Scientists are now taking the necessary measures to ensure that the seal returns to where it came from. We are studying the possibility of bringing it back to Reunion or placing it for the time being in a basin at the AFRC while waiting to deliver it to a captain of a ship which would cross the Antarctic zone, ”said Deven Anacootee.
But, how did the animal land in Trou-d’Eau-Douce?
Explanations by Dr. Vikash Tatayah, director of the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation. He is also a member of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society. Dr. Vikash Tatayah explains that on several occasions in the past, seals have stranded themselves in the lagoons of Mauritius and Rodrigues. He himself participated three times in the rescue of seals stranded in the Mauritian territories.
We took advantage of this incident to ask him a few questions:
How did this animal end up in Trou-d’Eau-Douce?
One of the main reasons that could explain the stranding of this mammal is bad weather. It was deviated from its initial trajectory towards Antarctica or Sub Antarctica by the trade winds, rough seas among others.
The little seal has drifted thousands of miles to get here.
This baby seal is a Sub Antarctic Fur Seal. As its name says, it is usually found in Sub Antartic areas like Amsterdam, Marion Islands among others.
Editor’s note: Several islands in our region have still been subject to a strong swell warning for the past few days. The southern, southeastern and southwestern lagoons are the most affected.
What are the baby seal’s chances of survival in our area?
It must be said that the chances of survival are quite minimal. Because, the temperature of the Mauritian waters is too hot for these animals which usually live in places where the temperature is less than -40 degrees Celsius.
As this specimen is quite small, it mainly survives by suckling from its mother. In addition, you have to feed it by hand with special foods (a mixture of squid, fish, etc.) which is quite difficult. Because, do not trust the size of the seal because although it is still a baby, it has a lot of strength and is difficult to feed.
There is also a strong risk that the seal will not return to its destination once offshore.
Is it dangerous ?
It is best to admire it from afar because the seal can become aggressive and bite when it feels in danger. You should avoid feeding it and throwing pieces of food at it because its diet currently consists of milk and food found in the sea.
You tell us that this is not the first time that a seal has been seen in our lagoon. What happened with the others?
A few years earlier, a baby seal named Cyril had washed up off Mauritius. “The seal was transported to the Subantarctic by a ship passing through this region.
Another seal that we had recovered again in Mauritius had been transported to an aquarium in South Africa
It is normally the Ministry of Fisheries which is responsible for “stranded mammals”.