Infanticide and cannibalism are common
throughout the animal kingdom,
as a means of population control
but these multiple seal deaths,
recorded around the whole of the North Atlantic coastlines, primarily in Canada,
suggest something more sinister......
The jury is still out,
as, even in this extensive study,
it has not been possible to replicate the type of wounds presented by other than mechanical means......
Preliminary attempts to reproduce the lesion patterns on carcases using clamps to mimic a predator’s jaws did not produce tearing wounds similar to the corkscrew wounds (Brownlow unpublished data). The skin and blubber layer eventually tore with the application of loads exceeding 220 kg but produced uneven tears dissimilar to the clean edged wounds seen in corkscrew cases. A series of scale model trials demonstrated that ducted propellers can produce these types of wounds . Vessels with such mechanisms have been identified as potential causes in most of the observed events around Scotland. It would therefore be premature to assume that the interactions with propellers are not responsible for any of the observed injuries to seals. However, historical analysis of strandings coupled with direct observations of infanticide and cannibalism suggest that attacks by adult male grey seals could explain many if not all of the observed spiral lacerated seals in UK waters.