A Macabre Mystery, What’s Killing Seals off Scotland and Canada?
Warning: If graphic descriptions of animals dying horrible deaths bothers you, skip this post. What’s been happening to some seals is right out of a horror movie. And no, this isn’t about seal clubbing and skinning, nasty though that may be.
With that out of the way, there is a macabre mystery brewing in Scotland and Canada. For about a decade, and ramping up in the past few years, seals have been found in Canada and Scotland that died a horrible death. Starting at one end of their bodies there is a deep laceration (or furrow even) that corkscrews around the entire body of the animal. It’s literally as if the animal was pushed while rotating against some sort of very sharp blade. The pictures are apparently too gruesome to publish, some of these furrows go right to the bone. The only good thing one can say about it is that whatever happened to these animals, they died almost instantly of shock and blood loss. What the hell is doing this to these poor seals?
No one knows, but boy, people are sure trying to find out. It’s obviously a mechanical device of some sort, IE these seals are being killed by machinery of some kind, there’s no natural way this could be occurring. And that’s about as far as scientists have gotten so far, and they are open to suggestion. The injuries are definitely not being caused by ship’s propellers, that much is known. Propellers leave “chopping” injuries and are well documented and understood, these injuries are nothing like propeller injuries. Fishing nets have also been ruled out, again fishing nets inflict well documented and well understood injuries. Military craft have also been ruled out, presumably because no military craft operate in the regions where the seals have been found. One ingenious suggestion by a blogger is that the seals were getting caught in wave turbines somehow. It was a clever idea, but since there aren’t any wave turbines near where the carcasses are being found, it’s no help.
It’s exactly as if the seals were being forced into a duct or cowling of some kind where they were forced up against a sharp metal blade. One researcher said it’s like they were run through a giant pencil sharpener. One suggestion was that they were somehow being caught in the bow thruster, a propeller at the front of some ships that is becoming more common these days. Alas, bow thrusters are in use world wide, while the seals are only being found in three relatively limited locations. If bow thrusters were causing these injuries we should be seeing dead seals much more widely distributed. So at this point scientists are trying to find out what sort of new seagoing machinery has been deployed in the past decade in these regions that might account for this sort of horrific occurrence.
In fact to me one of the real mysteries here is that it’s such a mystery. I mean, there must be all sorts of maritime and fishing professionals who are intimately familiar with all sorts of seagoing machinery. And it seems to go without saying that experts like this would have been consulted, at the very least some of these experts would have read about it in the papers. And if some sort of newly deployed spinning crab trap or such had been deployed in the past ten years, someone would have made the connection. Apparently no one has made such connection yet. Very peculiar.
My only thought was that maybe it is some sort of secret military submarine propulsion device, but that does have the same problem that the bow thruster theory had, wouldn’t we be seeing such carcasses over a wider area? Another idea I had is that, well, many fishermen hate seals with a blinding passion. Maybe someone, or someones, has built some sort of horrific seal catching and killing device that is being used by one or more fishing boats. I wonder if anyone has looked into if there’s any type of fishing boat that might have operated in both waters. Still, that seems like a lot of trouble to got through to kill a few seals, usually fishermen so inclined just shoot them, they don’t build Hannibal Lector seal killing contraptions. Plus if there was some type of fishing boat that did ply both the same waters, one would think it would have been investigated at this point.
So I dunno. My guess is that the answer will eventually prove to be somewhat mundane but only obvious in retrospect. IE some sort of new fishing or maritime device is causing this in some unlikely way, and no one has yet made the connection. And I suppose there are more exotic speculations, the aliens have moved on from cattle mutilations to seal mutilations? Seems extremely unlikely, but who can fathom the alien mind? I urge my readers to wrack their brains and see what they can come up with, one blogger’s suggestion was already looked into, that’s how desperate for ideas the people investigating this are. Here’s our chance to save seals from a fate too gruesome to publish the pictures of the aftermath. And nowadays, that’s pretty gruesome indeed.
(The above image was produced by the NOAA and is thus public domain under US copyright law. It’s a mother seal kinda pissed off at a human approaching her offspring. I really tried to find an image of one of the corkscrew wounded seals, but all I found were utterly horrifying images of skinned seals. I strongly recommend against doing a Google image search for “dead seal,” it’s ugly. More details on the corkscrew deaths can be found here.)