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SA marina launches successful wildlife management program

South Africa’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has launched a successful wildlife management program that is helping keep seals and otters off boats in the V&A’s blue flag marina.

Seals – and more recently otters – are a popular tourist attraction at the Waterfront, which is a South African boating hub and growing superyacht maintenance and repair hub. However, the animals are not welcome aboard boats, some of which have been damaged.

Damage to two boats at Cape Town’s nearby Granger Bay marina prompted a visit last week from one of the programme stakeholders to address boat owner concerns. “The otters in the Waterclub are wreaking havoc,” said a notice on a popular Cape Town boating social media group. “They have now visited my boat twice in two weeks and caused proper destruction.”

Seals were also regularly clambering aboard luxury yachts at the V&A marina until the Waterfront appointed dedicated wildlife monitors, which chase seals back into the water. The Waterfront has also constructed floating seal platforms that double as seal disentanglement centres – divers are able to safely approach the seals beneath the platforms to use a ‘sneak and snip’ method of removing entanglements.

Claire Taylor, in charge of animal-human conflict mitigation at the Waterfront’s Two Oceans Aquarium, confirmed the latest otter addition to the management programme. She said new monitors would be employed in October who would follow the otters in kayaks, whenever possible, and educate visitors regarding otter behaviour. The otters now have two semi-permanent homes inside the Waterfront precinct, Taylor said. “We spoke to boat owners and explained how to deal with the situation,” Taylor said.

“Experts have suggested that the generation of wildlife we are seeing at the moment has figured out how to live in the urban environment. This is not necessarily an increase in the otter population – it’s just that we’re seeing them more now, which is an amazing progression and privilege,” Taylor told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview last week.

The Waterfront saw an increase in wildlife visitors during the quiet Covid lockdown period. Sun fish, dolphins and humpback whales are also regularly sighted within the broader Port precinct.

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