Radio 2

More and more dead seals are washing ashore

So far this year 50 dead seals have washed ashore on Flemish beaches.  The figure is more than the number in the whole of 2019 and 2020. The figure may seem a blow, but in actual fact it is evidence of the revival of the seal population in our waters.

For many years the sight of a seal on the beach was an extremely rare occurrence here.  This has changed.  The North Sea seal population has grown and it’s only normal that more and more dead seals are washing ashore.

Jan Haelters is marine biologist at the Museum of Natural Sciences: “An awful lot of grey seals were born in neighbouring countries in November and December last year.  Our coast has been inundated with these young animals this spring. In the South East of England 95 seals were born in one area in 1991.  Last year the figure stood at 2,000.”

“The most important cause of death is due to seals getting tied up in fishing nets and drowning.  It’s hard to avoid.  Porpoises can be saved by attaching equipment to the nets that sends out a noise that scares them off.  You can’t do that with seals” says Haelters.

“The death figure isn’t that much of a problem, because seals are no longer an endangered species.  The seal population can take it.  Some animals that we examined had been bitten by foxes.  Some young seals will venture into the sand dunes to rest and are easy prey for foxes.”

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