A seal has died off the coast of Cornwall in what rescuers described as one of the world’s worst cases of entanglement.
The mammal, a male grey seal, was found washed up on Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel in Cornwall, with netting wrapped around its neck.
The post-mortem examination discovered multiple injuries to the seal’s head, neck, back and windpipe.
The pathologist who examined the seal said it had experienced ‘truly appalling’ suffering.
Rescuers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were alerted to the washed-up seal last month, on May 11, BBC News reports. The seal was spotted by members of the public, who saw it trapped in plastic at an ‘inaccessible location’ near Boscastle.
The seal then reappeared 16 days later. The team from BDMLR said: ‘Heartbreakingly, he had died as a result of the injuries he sustained.’
Michelle Robinson-Clement, a member of the BDMLR team, said:
This animal suffered a prolonged, tortured death; there is no question of that.
He is one of the worst cases of entanglement we have seen anywhere in the world due to the extreme nature of his injuries.
The material that was taken off him weighed 35kg (77lbs) – he wouldn’t have been able to swim or dive.
The seal’s body was eventually retrieved by volunteers from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, before it was taken to the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus in Penryn.
This is one of the seals that we disentangled in Newburgh a little while ago. It has healed up nicely and seems to be enjoying itself back in the water! #disentangled #sealrescue 🌊 pic.twitter.com/eojnQ3nCZg
— BDMLR (@BDMLR) May 13, 2019
James Barnett, a pathologist for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme who examined the seal, said:
This is probably the most serious net-related injury I have seen in 27 years of working with seals and the level of suffering this animal must have gone through is truly appalling.
In the wild, male grey seals can live for up to 30 years, while females live up to 40 years. It is currently unknown how old the seal found in Cornwall was.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.