July 22, 2010 by dyertrust

Update 22 July 2010– “It has been a week now since the leopard seal was found at Die Dam. We have not seen it since and we have not had any phone calls reporting a sighting, but rumuor is that the local fishermen have seen it close to their boats. So hopefully it is feeding and gaining weight enabling it to make it back to Antartica.”Katja Vinding Petersen

A call from Rob Lobb, an Honorary Fishing Inspector, on Thursday the 15th of June found marine biologist Katja Vinding Petersen (MSc) of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Albert Scholtz from Dyer Island Cruises, face to face with a leopard seal. Leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) are found in the Antarctic and there have been so few sightings on the South African coastline that there was reason to be excited. The site was Die Dam, approx. 40kms from Gansbaai in the Western Cape.

Leopard seals are known to be fast and agile -even on land and can be highly aggressive towards humans.

The condition of the leopard seal was very poor and it appeared lethargic. It was resting in the sun and did not move much. There were no wounds and no signs of entanglement in any fishing gear. Its teeth and gums looked healthy. The animal was approximately two metres in length, indicating that it is a juvenile, but because we did not wish to disturb the animal, it was not possible to determine the sex, says Katja.

The seal was hauled out against a sand dune at the high water mark and disappeared overnight and although Meredith Thornton of the Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria) and government department Oceans & Coasts were notified, return visits to the area to locate the seal were unsuccessful.Should it be sightedplease contact 0829075607.
Pictures by: Katja Vinding Petersen