If you come across what appears to be a stranded seal, but it shows no sign of injury or distress and isn't entangled, then it's generally best to leave it alone. Remember that unlike whales and dolphins, seals are able to spend time on land and often do.
If the animal is obviously in trouble then call the appropriate authorities. For the Cape Town area, this is the SPCA on 021 700 4140.
During mainly October/November, (but also into December) when seals give birth, baby seals called "sucklings" may get washed away from their mothers and land up on beaches. Unfortunately, the ones that survive usually need to be put down humanely. For Cape Town and environs, the Grassy Park SPCA will do this free of charge. In the Kalk Bay area, Pat Stacey, the Kalk Bay Harbour Master, Tel: (021) 788-8313 will keep them at the harbour to be collected by the SPCA.
It is illegal for members of the public to remove sucklings off beaches unless the intention is to take them to a Fisheries Control Officer, the SPCA or a vet.
Don't handle adult seals; their bites are very dangerous. You may recall the unfortunate incident a few years back in which a would-be rescuer had her nose badly bitten: Seal bites off woman's nose
- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, updated December 2012
Dolphin Action and Protection Group. 2009. Procedures to follow for single and mass strandings of whales and dolphins and injured seals.
How to really save a whale
Shark alert as seal pups wash ashore