Public requested to refrain from harming elephant seal

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The public has been kindly requested not to disturb or harm the seal which was recently spotted in the Southern coastal area.

General Manager of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Dr. P.B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told the media that the elephant seal should be left undisturbed because it is already going through trauma caused by drastic habitat changes.

The elephant seal was initially spotted at the Unawatuna sea area and due to continuous human disturbances the animal had drifted to Galle, Mirissa, and now to the Modara area.

“This elephant seal, which is wrongly interpreted by our people as a sea lion is an animal that lives in cold ocean waters. So, this animal is going through many difficulties to survive in a warm temperature like ours. This animal will decide whether it is going to swim back to the southern ocean zone or not. If it decides to stay here, it would be an interesting tourist attraction. Therefore, it is important that people don’t disturb this animal and leave it alone. If someone wants to have a look, they should at least keep a distance of 50 metres from the animal,” Dr. Pradeep Kumara stated.

Dr. Pradeep pointed out that for the elephant seal to adapt to the island’s warm temperature, it needs to rest on the beach or the rocks.

“But the people who come to see the animal keep pushing it back into the sea, compelling it to flee to safety. People take photographs with the animal, try to touch it. These actions put this animal in much danger. It should be let alone,” Dr. Pradeep also urged the public to refrain from trying to capture the elephant seal.

“There are rumours going around that a large sum of money has been offered to any person who manages to capture this animal. We got to know that some people are planning to use nets to catch this animal. Catching such an animal is illegal,” he added.

It was reported that the elephant seal which appeared on the Mahamodara Beach area last Saturday (30) had to swim away from the shore due to the large number of locals flocking to the scene.

The Officer In Charge (OIC) attached to the Marine National Park in Hikkaduwa Uthpala Udaranga who appeared at the scene carried out a brief awareness programme for the locals to get to know the newly arrived guest from the Southern Hemisphere.

The OIC also said the Sri Lanka Navy is to take measures in keeping the elephant seal safe.

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