The Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews has produced a report of the preliminary findings of investigations in to the causes of the recent spate of "corkscrew" injuries to seals. This work has been carried out in collaboration with the RSPCA, National Trust and the Scottish Agricultural College, Veterinary Investigation Centre.
We have concluded that the most likely cause of the injuries is ducted propeller systems on ships operating in shallow coastal waters. We have eliminated most other possibilities include the effects of fisheries, deliberate killing, the effects of illegal traps and predation by killer whales or sharks.
To date, most of the injuries have been seen in animals washed up in the Tay and Forth estuaries in Scotland, north Norfolk and in Strangford Lough in Ireland. The injuries themselves mostly involve a severe, sudden and deadly trauma leaving the animals with a very characteristic laceration injury that starts at the head and travels in a smooth spiral for the length of the body. Both grey and harbour seals have been involved.
The SMRU is keeping an open mind about the possibility that this type of injury may be more widespread than these cases suggest.
For more information contact : Dr Dave Thompson e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Report on unusual corkscrew seal injuries
see here for further details
contact: Dr Dave Thompson