About 7,000 Cape fur seals were found dead in a breeding colony in central Namibia. Agence France-Press reports.
In September, conservationist Naud Dreyer of the charity Ocean Conservation Namibia began spotting dead seals dotting the sandy beaches of the Pelican Point colony near Walvis Bay. Then, in the early weeks of October, he found a large number of seal embryos in the colony, said Dr. Tess Gridley of the Namibia Dolphin Project.
Fur seals usually give birth from mid-November to mid-December. Gridley calculated that 5,000 to 7,000 female seals have lost their offspring.
The cause of the mass extinction has yet to be established, but scientists suspect anything from pollutants or bacterial infections to malnutrition.
Some of the dead females found were “thin, emaciated, with very little fat,” Gridley said. Scientists are already collecting samples for testing.
In 1994, about 10,000 seals died and 15,000 fetuses were aborted in a mass extinction due to starvation, allegedly caused by a shortage of fish, as well as bacterial infection in another breeding colony, at Cape Cross, about 116 kilometers north of Central Tourist the city of Swakopmund.
Anneli Haifene, executive director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, said she suspects the seals died from “lack of food” but would wait for the test results.