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Thousands of dead seal pups wash ashore in west Africa

The pups were found at Pelican Point peninsula, a Namibian tourist destination known for its colony of seals and school of dolphins.
Credit: Ocean Conservation Namibia
Thousands of dead seal pups washed ashore near Walvis Bay, Namibia the week of Oct. 15, 2020.

WALVIS BAY, Namibia — Thousands of dead seal pups were washed ashore on the coast of Namibia in October, as conservation experts warned Friday that more were still being found. 

Footage taken by Ocean Conservation Namibia from the week of Oct. 15 shows the coast of the south-western African country dotted with more than 5,000 dead seal pups. 

The pups were found at Pelican Point peninsula, a tourist destination in Walvis Bay known for its colony of seals and school of dolphins. The conservation group estimated that as many as 12,000 in total had been aborted by their mothers off the Namibian coast. 

Namibia's ministry of fisheries said researchers had noticed higher than normal numbers of seal abortions at Pelican Point but could not establish a reason or give numbers. 

The conservation group said starvation is the most probable cause as fish, the seals' main source of food, have moved from Pelican Point. It said other reasons could be toxins or diseases, but nothing could be confirmed without proper study. 

A similar tragedy occurred in 1994 when starvation led to the loss of about a third of the seal population at Pelican Point.