Au revoir Buffel

2019-02-26 06:00
Buffel is gonePHOTO: facebook/animal ocean

Buffel is gonePHOTO: facebook/animal ocean

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For some time, Fish Hoek beachgoers watched and marvelled at the elephant seal called Buffel as he spent his days on the beach.

Named Buffel by the researcher who tagged him, he caused a bit of a stir among local beachgoers. He also drew a lot of interest from learners. Buffel was tagged (16577) by Steve Kirkman at Buffels Bay in Cape Point in November 2014. He eventually popped up in Paternoster and Hermanus.

According to information on the Animal Ocean website, Buffel is believed to be from the Marion Island colony about 2100km away and was resting on the beach while moulting.

With most people not knowing what to do, a message had to be sent out on who Buffel is and what to do around him (“Don’t disturb Buffel”,People’s Post, 5 February).

Animal Ocean kept an eye on Buffel and posted regular updates on him and what he was doing.

According to a recent Facebook post by Animal Ocean, Buffel arrived on Fish Hoek beach on Friday 25 January and left the beach on Tuesday 19 February. Buffel was on the shore because he was moulting. Moulting is a process of shedding old skin or fur to make way for new growth. This can take up to a month and during this period the seal does not eat. For Buffel, it was 26 days of moulting. The post by Animal Ocean went on to explain the moulting process and why seals go through this almost month-long process.

“It’s a big investment to be out of action for a month a year! Turns out it is due to their deep diving habits. In order to dive so deep and stay down in the cold ocean so long, the elephant seals have had to make a number of adaptations. One of these adaptations is that during dives they limit the flow of blood to their skin and extremities – sending it mostly to their brain and core organs. In order to get healthy new skin, elephant seals need to spend about a month on the beach so that their blood can circulate continuously to the skin without an excessive loss of body heat. This once-a-year, month-long process of shedding their entire outer layer of skin and hair is called a catastrophic moult,’’ read the post


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