The number of dead seals found along the coast of Namibia has risen to more than 7,000, non-profit group Ocean Conservation Namibia said on Friday.
OCN said last week thousands of dead seal pups had washed ashore at Pelican Point peninsula, a tourist destination known for its colony of seals and shoal of dolphins.
Naude Dreyer, a marine biologist at OCN, said researchers in the past week had detected a spike in the number of dead female adults.
“What we have been observing is less freshly dead seal pups and a lot of dead female adults,” he said
He said investigations had mainly centred on the Pelican Point Beach, so the overall number of dead seals could be higher.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources said last week it would send samples to South Africa to determine the cause of death. Dreyer said this had not yet been done because of the need to observe strict guidelines on shipping dangerous animal products.
“We are trying our best to find answers given the complex nature of the investigations where we don’t even know what we are looking for,” he said.
OCN said last week starvation was the most probable cause because fish, the seals’ main source of food, have moved from Pelican Point, but other reasons could be toxins or disease and no explanation could be ruled out without a full study.
The ministry was not immediately available for comment.