[The Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary]

Animal carers battling to save seal
with horrifying neck wound

A grey seal pup is fighting for its life after being slowly garrotted by discarded fishing net which has left it with a three-inch deep neck wound.

Horrified animal care workers from the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary rescued the four-month-old grey seal from Holme beach on the 17th of March 2005.

Supervisor Kieran Copeland carefully snipped through the deeply embedded nylon mesh, then a further two hours administering painkillers and antibiotics and applying a special healing gel to the gaping injury.

″We´ve had seals with net wounds before, and I know other rescue centres have seen nasty neck wounds, but I don´t think there´s ever been a case as bad as this,″ said Kieran.

″It really highlights the damage that carelessly discarded fishing net can do, not only to seals of course but also to dolphins, porpoises and sea birds, and we´re hoping that this will help persuade fishermen to take extra care,″ he added.

Volunteers in the Norfolk Wildlife Trust found the young male pup in a clearly weak and desperate condition on Holme beach and stayed with it until the Sanctuary team arrived,

″We reckon the netting must have been wrapped around its neck for at least a month, digging deeper and deeper as the seal grew,″ said Kieran.

If he survives the critical first few days in the Sanctuary´s purpose-built hospital, the wound will take another six months to heal.″

Staff considered boarding up the window into the pup´s isolation cubicle to spare visitors the shock of seeing such terrible wounds, but have decided instead that the experience may give extra momentum to calls to stem the practice of dumping damaged netting overboard.

Press Release date: 21st March 2005

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Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary / hunstanton@sealsanctuary.co.uk