Postmortem to be carried out on Arctic seal

Wed, Aug 1, 2012, 01:00

A POSTMORTEM is to be carried out at UCD on the body of an Arctic seal found on a Dublin beach on Monday. Such animals are rare in Ireland,

The hooded seal, more common in Arctic waters, was discovered on Monday by Moira Lawson, an Irishtown resident, while walking on Sandymount Strand at 5am.

Despite the efforts of Ms Lawson, who stayed with the animal while she tried to contact help, and Paula Hughes of the Sandymount Pet Hospital and volunteers from the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary, the seal died last night.

Ms Lawson said she first attempted to call the ISPCA, but was unable to reach them. She then rang the local Garda station and fire brigade, who could not help.

She then called the Coast Guard who gave her a number for the sanctuary which, although based in Dingle, Co Kerry, covers the Irish coastline.

As passersby congregated during the morning some admitted to having seen the animal the previous night.

The experience led Ms Lawson to call for increased awareness among the public and rescue services as to what to do in this situation.

“It’s sad. This was something very rare to Ireland which could have been saved if someone had known who to contact,” she said.

Ally McMillan of the sanctuary confirmed that it was a baby hooded seal, just three of which have been found in Ireland in the past 25 years.

Two died while a third was successfully released by the Naval Service about 200 miles off the north coast.

However, she noted that, perhaps as a result of climate change, this type of seal was showing up in new areas and the Natureland Seal Sanctuary in the UK had dealt with three such animals in recent times.

Ms McMillan said the seal had probably died from ingesting sand: “Experts put this down to the seal being dehydrated; in the Arctic they would go up on ice shelves and eat snow and ice which would do them no harm.

“But when they find themselves in unusual environments they instinctively eat sand which causes their organs to fail,” she said.

Those who come across a seal in distress should not put it back into the water.

They should keep children and dogs away and contact the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary on 066-9151750 or 087-1955393.

*This article was amended on August 1st, 2012 to correct a factual error