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‘Huge Rise’ In Dead Seals Includes Many With Apparent Gunshot Wounds

16th February 2021
File image of seals which are a common sight around Irish shores File image of seals which are a common sight around Irish shores Credit: Seal Rescue Ireland/Facebook

A “huge rise” in dead seals recorded around the Irish coast includes a number with what appear to be gunshot wounds.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Seal Rescue Ireland has released figures from its ‘deal seal database’ which show 202 reports in 2020, more than double the number in 2019.

This year alone the figure has reached more than 60 of the protected marine wildlife species washed up within just six weeks, predominantly on the South and South East coasts, with some of the latest in East Cork between Ballycotton and Shanagarry.

A number of these and other carcasses have been found with holes in their bodies.

But Melanie Croce of Seal Rescue Ireland says that without proper post-mortems, it is impossible to confirm if these wounds are from gunshots or even related to the cause of death.

In a comment to Afloat.ie, Croce added: “Based on the evidence we’ve been seeing, the most likely cause of death is due to being caught up in storms (climate change) as well as being caught in fishing nets and drowning (bycatch).

“The holes, which do appear in large numbers of the carcasses being reported, are most likely due to scavenging animals.”

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Update 17/2/21: This article was updated to correct the headline and intro and include additional comment.

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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