Department of Environmental Affairs and City of Cape Town encourage Fish Hoek residents to be cautious around elephant seal 

06 February 2019


The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the City of Cape Town have received reports regarding the harassment of an elephant seal currently hauling out on Fish Hoek South beach.

DEA and the City would like to remind the public of the Elephant Seal moulting period which is currently underway and expected to take a few more weeks. Fish Hoek beachgoers can expect to see the seal ashore for a few more weeks.

Moulting is a process by which the Southern Elephant seal sheds all of its pelage and underlying epidermis. This annual process can take up to a month to fully complete. During the moult, southern elephant seals remain on land. The process of moulting renders them sensitive to changing temperature therefore they avoid the water. During this period the seals generally do not feed as they sustain themselves through the fat storage called blubber. Residents and visitors are advised that this is a natural process and we are privileged as a community to have this unfamiliar visitor on one of our beaches. 

The DEA and the City therefore requests that the public respects the Elephant seal during this period and to stay at least 10 metres away when viewing and photographing him. Tape has been put up to demarcate the area, residents are to please abide by this. 

‘We urge that parents also ensure that their children are kept under close supervision and don’t go within 10m of the animal. Beach goers who plan to walk their dogs should keep them on a leash at all times within 50m of the animal. We ask that you please do not attempt to feed the seal, throw water on it or create any other unnecessary disturbance within close proximity to the animal,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

‘Taking selfies in particular with your back turned to the animal and within close proximity is strictly prohibited. These seals can also move deceptively fast when on the beach and are extremely dangerous when they feel uneasy or cornered ,’ said Nieuwoudt.

Seals are generally very friendly in the water but can be extremely dangerous when they feel uneasy or cornered. While this particular seal seems to be relaxed, please note that it is a wild animal that can inflict a serious bite and its behaviour is unpredictable.

Members of the public are encouraged to please give the seal space until it is ready to go back out to sea.

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For media queries please contact:

Zolile Nqayi - Department of Environmental Affairs
Cell: 082 898 6483

City of Cape Town

Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt - Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment

Tel: 021 400 5154 or Cell: 084 224 0023

Email: (please always copy )