Grey seal strandings increase in Cornwall

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Grey seal strandings increase in Cornwall

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 18:38
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Conservationists baffled by mass strandings, which have included many deaths

A recent increase in grey seal strandings along the Cornish coast have left conservationists perplexed. According to The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, it has attended “twice as many strandings of seals as would normally be expected for this time of year”. 

Between October and November, 35 dead seals have washed up along the Cornish coastline. Over the same period, an additional 37 seals have been rescued from Cornish beaches by British Divers Marine Life Rescue. “Whilst bad weather will undoubtedly have been the cause of some of these strandings, the sheer number of cases has left us slightly baffled,” said Marine Conservation Officer Caz Waddell.

“We don’t yet have any answers as to why this is happening, but it shows just how important it is for people to tell us about any stranded marine animal they see. “

It remains unclear as to whether the strandings are a one-off event or indicative of a deeper problem.
One concern has been that the strandings have included not just pups but fertile young adults. “If we are losing breeding-age adults from the population the implications for future generations could be huge,” says Sue Sayer, of the Cornwall Seal Group.

“Whilst it is sadly quite common to find dead pups at this time of year, deaths of adult seals are more serious and we are concerned about the numbers that are dying around our coasts. The large numbers of strandings occurring in Cornwall is of concern not just to us locally, but nationally as well," she added. According to The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Britain is home to over a third of the world's grey seal population.