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Irish Seals Are Cannibals? Research Shows Possible Link To Death Numbers

7th December 2016
Grey seals like these, as well as common seals, are regularly found around the Irish and British coasts Grey seals like these, as well as common seals, are regularly found around the Irish and British coasts Photo: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia

#MarineWildlife - Is cannibalism among seals to blame for deaths of the marine mammals recorded on Ireland’s shores?

That’s one reason suggested by researchers in the latest report from the Irish Seal Sanctuary’s seal death database, according to the Irish Examiner.

While further research is required, recent studies at UCD indicate that some injuries previously attributed to boat propellers may be consistent with attacks on younger seals by older bulls.

Fishing activity is also suspected in some of the more than 100 carcasses recorded in the two years before May 2016 — particularly over the winter months in Waterford and Wexford, though there is no confirmed connection to the concurrent inshore fishery.

The sanctuary’s database relies on public contributions, with the largest number of seal carcasses reported in Dublin, followed by Cork, Wexford and Waterford.

In related news, the Dublin InQuirer reports on the uneasy relationship between dog walkers on Bull Island and the reserve’s resident seal colonies, which conservationists argue are often disturbed by pets running loose.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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