September 30, 2022

Hundreds of Cape Fur Seals Entangled in Fishing Lines and Nets Every Year – Causing Horrific Injuries and Painful Deaths

Fishing line and webs are having a major effect on Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus), the most common marine mammal observed around the shoreline of South Africa and Namibia, where they are endemic. Credit: M Laubscher
High variety of affected animals were juveniles and pups, which were mainly entangled around the neck by fishing line.
Fishing line and nets are having a major effect on Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus), the most common marine mammal observed around the shoreline of South Africa and Namibia, where they are endemic.
While their population numbers are thought about healthy, plastic contamination, and especially fishing line and internet, are causing horrific injuries and can result in a sluggish, agonizing death.

Rates of entanglement were approximately 1 per 500 animals and was similar in between the two nests investigated at Walvis Bay and Cape Cross. Of the 347 entangled animals recorded, the disentanglement group, led by Naudé Dreyer of Ocean Conservation Namibia, were able to effectively disentangled 191 individuals in between 2018 and March 2020.
Naudé Dreyer from Ocean Conservation Namibia states the project is ongoing: “Since the start of 2021 we have currently disentangled over 600 fur seals in only 2 colonies. This is the pointer of the iceberg. It is crucial that studies such as this highlight the repercussions of plastic waste on marine animals, and bring around change for the better.”

Plastic pollution, and especially fishing line and nets, are causing horrific injuries to Cape fur seals and can result in a slow, painful death. Credit: Dr. Tess Gridley
These are the first arise from an ongoing job, initiated in 2018, to investigate the effect of pollution on Cape fur seals in Namibia The job includes scientists and conservationists from Stellenbosch University, Sea Search-Namibian Dolphin Project, and Ocean Conservation Namibia.
The group keeps an eye on the entanglement rates of seals and Ocean Conservation Namibia have actually been disentangling many of the animals impacted. The first outcomes from the project were released today in the clinical journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Volunteers from the non-profit organization Ocean Conservation Namibia chasing juvenile Cape fur seals to disentangle affected people from fishing line wounds around their necks. Credit: Ocean Conservation Namibia.
The study demonstrated that a high number of affected animals were puppies and juveniles, which were primarily entangled around the neck by fishing line. Rates of entanglement were approximately 1 per 500 animals and was comparable in between the two nests examined at Walvis Bay and Cape Cross. Of the 347 knotted animals documented, the disentanglement team, led by Naudé Dreyer of Ocean Conservation Namibia, had the ability to successfully disentangled 191 individuals in between 2018 and March 2020.
A brand-new study showed that a high variety of affected Cape fur seals were puppies and juveniles, which were mainly entangled around the neck by fishing line. Credit: M Laubscher
Working in Africa with restricted options, the group also compared low cost approaches of information collection. They found that photographic scans of the nests were a quick and accurate approach to gather information on knotted people and the products they are trapped in.
Dr. Tess Gridley, co-director of the Namibia Dolphin Project and a remarkable senior speaker in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University, says plastic pollution and particularly lost and disposed of fishing internet are having a huge impact to marine life: “Once entangled, these seals face a unsure and extremely painful future: discovering food ends up being more difficult and wounds can end up being deep and debilitating, and most likely cause death in lots of cases. Modifications to policy might assist, such as monetary rewards to recuperate lines, safe disposal of nets and sustainable alternatives to plastics.”
Stephanie Curtis, a research study student with the Namibian Dolphin Project and lead author, states the effect of plastic contamination in the oceans is ravaging: “Seals must not have to suffer this method due to the fact that of our recklessness with waste.”
According to Dr. Simon Elwen, co-director of the Namibian Dolphin Project and also related to SUs Department of Botany and Zoology, fur seals are particularly susceptible to becoming entangled: “They are very curious and lively animals and will investigate items in the water, but their thick, backward facing fur which keeps them warm at sea quickly snags lines and straps and stops it falling back off.”
Naudé Dreyer from Ocean Conservation Namibia says the job is ongoing: “Since the start of 2021 we have already disentangled over 600 fur seals in only 2 nests. This is the tip of the iceberg. It is necessary that research studies such as this highlight the effects of plastic waste on marine animals, and bring around modification for the better.”
Reference: “Entanglement of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) at colonies in main Namibia” by S. Curtis, S. H. Elwen, N. Dreyer and T. Gridley, 4 August 2021, Marine Pollution Bulletin.DOI: 10.1016/ j.marpolbul.2021.112759.

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