The beach at Pelican Point in Namibia has now risen to nearly 10,000 dead baby seals, Ocean Conservation Namibia (OCN) said in an Instagram post on Friday. Drone footage taken by the OCN shows the beach full of seal pup bodies. "We are sitting at the cusp of a catastrophe. There are literally thousands of seal pups being born prematurely and dying almost immediately," OCN said.
"This is a natural phenomenon - meaning that when the pregnant female feels she does not have enough reserves, she can abort her fetus. This happens every year to a few individuals, but never on this scale!" Seals give birth in the middle of November, but sometimes you can see prematurely born seal pups in October.
Premature seal pups cannot survive. They are too young and not fully developed. A few premature deaths is a natural event, but thousands of premature dead seal pups are extremely rare. The beaches are full of little black lumps, OCN said.
According to OCN, there are different reasons for these deaths. The most probable one is starvation; fish might have moved too far away from Pelican Point. "Our seals look a bit thin, it could likely be caused by a lack of food," they said. "Other seal colonies look much better, the seals are fatter and they don't record the same amount of premature pups." Other reasons could be toxins or diseases.