Could a dead seal found on a popular Essex beach have been shot at?
PUBLISHED: 12:01 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:04 07 January 2019
It is believed that a seal found washed up on a beach on Mersea Island might have died from unnatural causes.
The common seal, which is now lying dead on the beach at East Mersea, had some blood patches by its nose, which lead some people who came across the body to believe that it may have been shot.
One woman from West Mersea, who came across the seal close to the youth camp Essex outdoors Mersea, when she was out walking her labrador on Saturday afternoon, said: “it’s terribly sad and I do hope that people have not been attacking the seals.
“We do sometimes see seals swimming off the coast on Mersea Island, sometimes they swim up to people trying to catch crabs off the shore. It’s very distressing to see one dead like this.”
A colony of seals lives in the Pyefleet Channel, between Mersea Island and Brightlingsea.
It is not the first time that foul play has been suspected in the death of seals at Mersea.
In 2013, a seal that had been shot dead was found washed up on a Mersea beach. And in 2016, two dead seals were found on the island in the space of a fortnight, one of which was witnessed to have blood coming from its nose area.
Seals are protected under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970, but under that statute, fishermen can apply for a licence to kill them, if damage to nets can be proved.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “An RSPCA officer was called to reports of a seal on a beach in East Mersea on December 28. The body of the adult seal was checked by the officer and there was no obvious signs as to the cause of death.”
A spokesman for Colchester Borough Council explained that the council had been unaware of the dead seal, but will now send somebody to East Mersea to investigate and dispose of the body.
“We would recommend people to keep their dogs away from the seal’s body. When these incidents occur, sometimes the body can wash away, but we are hoping to be able to find the seal and hopefully find out what killed it.
“Animals do lose fluids through all sorts of orifices when they die, so the fact that blood was seen coming from its nose doesn’t necessarily mean that the seal was attacked.”