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Death of second seal pup off West Cork coast

January 7th, 2019 2:25 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The seal pup was found in a distressed state in Adrigole.

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A SEAL pup that was rescued in West Cork at Christmas has lost its fight for life, making it the second seal pup to die in the area in recent weeks. 

Just before Christmas, a seal named ‘Sugar’ found by Alice Clifford, near Lough Hyne, died after it ingested too much plastic.

But the latest seal – which was found in a distressed state in Adrigole – died on St Stephen’s Day while being transported to the Seal Rescue Ireland centre in Wexford by its animal care manager, Sam Brittain.

Melanie Croce, the rescue centre’s chief executive, told The Southern Star that a lot of young seals are getting ‘a really brutal start to life’ because of the number of violent storms in recent years.

Melanie described the condition of the latest seal as ‘very lethargic’ and ‘emaciated’.

She explained that grey seals, who breed during the autumn, give birth in November and December, and in late December should be weaned and thriving in their environment.

But after battling almost continuous storm conditions, they come up on beaches to rest. 

She said the problem arises if the storm surges exceed the high tide line ‘because then there is nowhere for them to go to escape – especially if it is in a rocky area – so they get washed out and become exhausted.’

Melanie said that at that stage it is more difficult for them to access food and it becomes a state of continuous decline.

She explained that a lot of the time they will have eaten sand. ‘If they are on the beach they will be so hungry that they will eat anything around them.

‘It is not uncommon for us to have a seal that will have eaten sand, or even seaweed, or plastic, or rocks, and then they expel that. Unfortunately,
some of them are too far gone. 

‘This one died in transport. Sometimes you know right away if the pup needs to come in.

 ‘We are the only seal rescue service in the Republic of Ireland, so that means we are responsible for covering the entire coastline.’

The increase in the frequency of storms means the centre is experiencing an increase in intake each year.

Fortunately, Seal Rescue Ireland has 800 network volunteers willing to help to identify, report and transport seals in need of saving. Their number is: 087 1955393.

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