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More than 7,000 dead seals found on African beach: conservation group

Tuesday, October 27th 2020, 2:36 pm - Starvation was the most probable cause as fish, the seals' main source of food, have moved from Pelican Point, but other reasons could be toxins or disease.

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - The number of dead seals found washed ashore on the coast of Namibia has risen to more than 7,000, non-profit group Ocean Conservation Namibia (OCN) said on Friday.

OCN said last week thousands of dead seal pups had washed ashore at Pelican Point peninsula, a tourist destination known for its colony of seals and school of dolphins.

Naude Dreyer, a marine biologist at OCN, said investigations in the past week had revealed a spike in the number of dead female adults.

"What we have been observing is less freshly dead seal pups and a lot of dead female adults," he said.

Nambia seals/Reuters Adult seals gather behind a dead pup foetus on a beach near Pelican Point, Namibia September 30, 2020. Picture taken September 30, 2020. Naude Dreyer/Ocean Conservation Namibia/Handout via REUTERS

He said investigations had mainly centred on the Pelican Point Beach, so the overall number of dead seals could be higher.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources said last week it would send samples to South Africa to determine the cause of death. Dreyer said this had not yet been done because of the need to observe strict guidelines on shipping dangerous animal products.

"We are trying our best to find answers given the complex nature of the investigations where we don't even know what we are looking for," he said.

The ministry was not immediately available for comment.

OCN said last week starvation was the most probable cause as fish, the seals' main source of food, have moved from Pelican Point, but other reasons could be toxins or disease and nothing could be ruled out without a full study.

(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Janet Lawrence)

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