Subject: 'They' Know We Care !
Date: February 28, 2008

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,


     It has always bothered me, that these large multi-million dollar international organizations all campaign to Save Seals, but none actually do, physically. To me if you claim you Save Seals and raise millions for that purpose, then this is physically what you should do. For this you need somesort of rescue facility. Whilst campaigning, protesting, letter writing and photographing seals being killed is all very well and great awareness, it still does not actually save a single seals life. I have always wondered why this is? Yes, physically rescuing a wild seal's life is difficult and open to huge criticism, and of course it costs thousands, but can you really seperate one from the other. I know I cant. Perhaps the reason is that some seal supporters prefer to donate small feel-me-good donations, and for their $25 donation, expect little more than a $25 service in return, less admin costs, salaries and fund raising costs. Knowing this, these international organizations change the concept of physically saving a seal's life to campaigning to save its life, maybe. A far cheaper alternative. Added together in their millions makes a nice sizeable fund in the bank.
     Seal Alert-SA on the otherhand is tremendously proud of its seal supporters or partners as I prefer. Although small in number, they are really concerned about the seals and do what is required. As such we have together been able to move mountains and save seals. In the true sense of the word, thousands.
     One such supporter or partner is Jose and Marius, whose organization deals with poisoning of animals, yet whenever the seals needed it, they were always more than there to help financially and in othermeans. I have longed looked for a special seal to name in their honour, and this is how their story begins, and will unfold over the next 12 months ....

'They' Know We Care !

    To prove why we need to rescue them, because 'They' Know We Care ! This particular little endangered baby seal pup was no doubt born with all his other siblings on a small awash rock seal colony off Hout Bay, somewhere around 26th November and 15th December. He was lucky his mom had not chosen to have him in Namibia, for he would surely have not seen the age of his first year, either starving to death, torn apart by jackals to being surrounded and clubbed to death. For the past 75 days this pup sat obediently and waited the return of his foraging mom and his rich milk. This small rock was his sanctuary, his entire world, his country. But for days his mom did not usually return. He waited and waited, and waited. Growing very, very hungry.

     He had two choices. He could wait and slowly starve to death or he could attempt to locate his mom. Who unknown to him was likely dead, shot by a greedy fisherman. Which way should he go, for there was not another seal colony for at least 100km in either direction, and inbetween which rock on this coastline should he search. From his perspective. This is what he faced.

     A world so vast and open that stretched for miles as far as his little round eyes could see. An immense ocean of possibilities or disappointments or death.

     Yet, in all this immense vastness of so-called protected waters, this little pup had one further option. He could go to a spot he had never been been to, but had heard about. A place so small it measured 6m by 6m. There he had been told, when all else fails, when things are really looking grim. There are people who really, really care. So he set off, braving white sharks that gobble you up in one bite, cold seas, huge pounding waves and hope.
     When he exactly arrived on the Seal Alert-SA raft, I do not know. It might have been days or a few hours. I have not swum out to the raft, these past few days, as I was re-occupied with nursing his 5 other siblings, each from a different seal colony, each with a similar story days into their life. When rescuing baby seals, you normally have a window of rescue to save their fluffy lives of just a month, the month within birth. After that, it is seldom you will ever see a baby pup needing rescue until the following year.
     As I swam to the rafts and proceeded to check them, I noticed by chance this little bundle of fur curled up fast asleep. Immediately I could see this was a baby (non-fish eating) pup who could only survive on suckling. If I frightened him or he jumped into the water, this would surely cost him his life. How he navigated this long cold swim, I will never know. So how do I approach him. I re-entered the water, swam around to the front of the raft where he lay to get a closer look. At that moment another older pup, last year's rescue of pups fleeing Namibian sealers approached this baby, and the baby responding, crying for some milk. Snout to snout. Up from the water I stretched out my hand, and this little baby pup, stared down on me in confusion. I proceeded to rub his neck softly, and in a moment he started calling after me as his long lost mom.
    Before I could even think, how I would swim with this wild baby pup, back to the pier, climb up and walk down to the centre. He was up on all four flippers, and plunged straight into my arms off the raft. Wild as a timid wild seal can be, this baby pup, immediately knew something and that this alien creature (this enemy) was this thing other seals had told him about, and he was going for it.

On the left of pics, JM

    I have named him JM (After Jose and Marius good seal partners), his belly is now full, and he is exhausted and has slept constantly for two days now, with the other 5 siblings, nudging him every so often just to check if he is still alive and wanting him to recover soon so that they can all play.
    This is why we need to do seal rescue, and this is why Seal Alert-SA has floating facilities. Campaigns and letter writing are all very good, but we also need to be able to let these seals speak and find us. What would have happened to JM, if no facility existed?
    Over the past decade, I have had many affirmations of this 'seal talk'. Cows coming to give birth, shot and coming to die in my arms, entangled seals and starving seals. But, knowing these babies behaviour well, and how clueless they are at this age. That the chances of him surviving this swim, let alone head in a particular direction, is near to impossible, yet here he is. He could have hauled out anywhere, on any rock, in any direction. Even within the harbour itself, yet he found it, and instead of fleeing in terror, jumped straight into my arms.
    To all of you, thank you for making this work possible, especially Jose and Marius.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
link to sealmancam