Tough love "STOP FEEDING SEALS"!


"Horrifying and life changing"! - that´s one person´s description of the day their St Ives boat trip went badly wrong. As an enjoyable angling trip came to a close and the boat returned to St Ives harbour, customers gave in to the begging eyes of two seals - "Box desk" and "Clouds" following their boat.

Sadly, in a split second of unfortunate circumstances, adult female Box desk came up to grab a fish that had landed at the back of the boat at the same time as the skipper reversed to park quayside. The sudden grating propeller sound meant Box desk had been seriously injured.
August 2017 - Box desk just before being injured by the propeller - sent by members of the public to CSGRT and BDMLR
Box desks injury on her lower back as she turned and tried to power away from the turning propellers - photo supplied by a member of the public to BDMLR It took onlookers a few moments to realise what had happened as the seal splashed vigorously at the surface and dashed away revealing a large pink injury by her tail.

Unintentional on everyone´s parts and gut wrenching for those involved, the implications for the seal are still unclear. Despite reports to the contrary, no confirmed sightings of Box desk have been reported since.

So, if you see in a seal in St Ives harbour please email a photo to sue@cornwallsealgroup.co.uk.
Whilst this stunningly beautiful female seal is known locally as "Sammy", she has been known to the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) since 2009 as Box desk from the unique fur patterns on the right side of her neck. She is thought to be over 15 years old.

We all need to make sure that Box desk (photo right) hasn´t suffered (or worse) in vain. We need to learn from her misfortune and get this sorted! We must STOP FEEDING SEALS! Tough love means NEVER feeding wild seals.
Box desk in the wild enjoying life outside of a harbour before her injury - she has been known to CSGRT since 2009 and she is thought to be at least years old - Credit: Sue Sayer
Seal in the harbour at Newquay Harbours are busy human spaces with lots of hidden dangers - diesel (when inhaled can kill seals from slow organ failure); propellers and other human debris all present risks to seals.

Seal behaviour changes as they become increasingly stressed from their constant focus on finding food, chasing between boats to see which will feed next and snapping at each other when their usual pecking order is upset.
Sue Sayer from CSGRT says "a seal´s eagerness to be the first to snatch the dangling fish from our hands, increases the risk of them misjudging distances at speed, which could result in accidental injuries for us.

Seal bites are extremely serious and always require medical attention with specific antibiotics. Boat operators face litigation which could cost them their business and livelihood".
Seals in the harbour at Newquay
Clouds ID catalogue photos - by Sue Sayer Sue Sayer continues "this was an accident waiting to happen. Almost all the seals identified as visitors to Cornish harbours have been injured - adult female Clouds (photo left) has multiple back slashes from a propeller and the ironically named "White propeller" had a deep gash on the top of his head that resulted in him going blind.
"Medallion man" (photo right taken in 2011) and "Radley" in Newquay harbour have been photographed with fish hooks caught in their mouths and with line around their flippers and two seals "Splash" and "Smiles" were thought to have died of diesel poisoning after a spill during a fire". Medallion Man in Newqay harbour
16th February 2014 - Box desks - by Sue Sayer CSGRT Dan Jarvis from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) "the worst part of all this, is that Box desk was heavily pregnant. The summer months for grey seals are a time when they should be putting on weight to get them through their pupping season in autumn - she´ll lose a third of her own body weight at this time.

Even if Box desk´s pup survives to be born, if she doesn´t have the energy to feed her pup properly, then both she and her pup risk dying from starvation by the spring."
So even if the consequences of feeding seals are not as obvious as an immediate injury, the knock on effects can be felt over the next few months, potentially resulting in another dead pup on a Cornish beach!

So let´s make a stand together!

We can all pledge to practise tough love and STOP FEEDING SEALS now and forever, discouraging others from doing so too!

Boat operators can display "STOP FEEDING SEALS" posters and tell customers why during safety briefings.

Harbour managers can enforce "STOP FEEDING SEALS" policies and apply sanctions for those turning a blind eye.

Let Box desk be the last seal (in a long line of seals) to get injured - practise tough love and "STOP FEEDING SEALS"!


-ENDS-


For more information contact:-

Dan Jarvis BDMLR on 07810 460603 or by email: dan@bdmlr.org.uk
and/or
Sue Sayer CSGRT email: sue@cornwallsealgroup.co.uk
Press Release Issue Date: 9th September 2017

Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust is an evidence based conservation charity conducting research aimed at putting grey seals on everyone´s agenda by giving seals a voice and inspiring people to learn more about this globally rare species.   Email: sue@cornwallsealgroup.co.uk Website: www.cornwallsealgroup.co.uk

British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organization, UK based and a Registered Charity. The aims of the organization are to provide a rescue service for all marine wildlife, to provide support to all existing rescue centres and to develop new methods of treatment, transport and care.
Email: info@bdmlr.org.uk Website: British Divers Marine Life Rescue



Credit image stills - CSGRT and BDMLR:-
1) August 2017 - Box desk just before being injured by the propeller - sent by members of the public to CSGRT and BDMLR
2) Box desk´s injury on her lower back as she turned and tried to power away from the turning propellers - photo supplied by a member of the public to BDMLR.
3) Box desk in the wild enjoying life outside of a harbour before her injury - she has been known to CSGRT since 2009 and she is thought to be at least years old - by Sue Sayer CSGRT
4,5) Seals in Newquay harbour - by Barry Williams CSGRT
6) Clouds ID catalogue photos - by Sue Sayer CSGRT
7) Medallion Man in Newquay harbour - by Barry Williams CSGRT
8) 16th February 2014 - Box desk - by Sue Sayer CSGRT


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