Cornwall seal death 'one of world's worst cases'

image copyrightBDMLR
image captionThe grey seal had heavy nets wrapped around his neck

A seal has died in what rescuers have described as one of the world's worst cases of entanglement.

The male grey seal washed up at Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel, Cornwall, on Monday with netting wrapped around his neck.

A post-mortem examination revealed injuries to his head, neck, back and windpipe.

The examining pathologist said the animal had experienced "truly appalling" suffering.

A team from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was first alerted to the animal on 11 May.

Members of the public had spotted him trapped within marine plastic at an inaccessible location near Boscastle.

Sixteen days later the same seal reappeared.

'Prolonged, tortured death'

"Heartbreakingly he had died as a result of the injuries he sustained," BDMLR said.

Michelle Robinson-Clement, part of the original BDMLR search team, said: "This animal suffered a prolonged, tortured death; there is no question of that.

"He is one of the worst cases of entanglement we have seen anywhere in the world due to the extreme nature of his injuries.

"The material that was taken off him weighed 35kg (77lbs) - he wouldn't have been able to swim or dive."

His body was retrieved by Cornwall Wildlife Trust volunteers the following day and taken to the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus in Penryn.

James Barnett, pathologist for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, examined the seal and said: "This is probably the most serious net-related injury I have seen in 27 years of working with seals and the level of suffering this animal must have gone through is truly appalling."

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