On Sunday September 14, 2008, a stranded seal thought to have come from the Southern Antarctic islands washed up in Mossel Bay.
The seal was a first year seal, and was not in the best condition after its long journey thousands of miles from home. The seal was reported to director Stefan Swanson, who has extensive knowledge of marine mammals and seal populations. The seal was then picked up and put in a box to be taken to the SAMPLA household until it could be cared for.
A few hours later, SAMPLA interns Christine, Tricia, Alessandro, and director Stephen brought a certain large box which began to make small growling noises. The seal in a box was brought down to the dockside, where Stefan gave the students a lesson in seal anatomy. Christine, Tricia, and Alessandro learned how the gender of seals is determined, as well as the aspects of seal’s anatomy that identified it as a distant visitor, such as the enlarged eyes and white fur on the chest. In addition, the size of the canine teeth identified it as a young-of-the-year seal. After this lesson, Stef returned the under-nourished seal to the harbor, where it could forage in relative safety and hopefully regain its strength before its long swim back home.