Fears of more Norfolk seal deaths
Adam LazzariThe number of seals deaths caused mysterious corkscrew like injuries off the north Norfolk coast could be more than double the 38 recorded, according to the police inspector investigating the case.Adam Lazzari
The number of seals deaths caused mysterious corkscrew like injuries off the north Norfolk coast could be more than double the 38 recorded, according to the police inspector investigating the case.
Inspector Mike Brown believes solving the mystery, which is baffling both himself and scientists, is vital for north Norfolk.
He said: 'Thirty-eight deaths of this type have been accounted for since last December, but I know there will have been more dead seals that will have been disposed of. I don't know how many more deaths there have been - it could even be double the amount we have accounted for.'
He added: 'Seals are iconic in this area of Norfolk and I don't want to be known as the inspector in charge when the seals were wiped out.
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'They are vital to the ecology and the economy of the area. The north Norfolk coast is renowned for its beauty and wildlife and it is a big reason why people live here, come here for holidays and spend money here.
'Both myself and PC Jason Pegden are dedicating an enormous amount of time and effort into this and much of it is both of our personal time.'
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A spokesman for the National Trust said the seal population in the Blakeney to Wells area fluctuated, but estimated there to be about 200 common seals and a few grey seals currently residing there.
The EDP reported last week that seal carcasses with a single smooth-edged cut that starts at the head and spirals around the body have been appearing on the coast of Wells, Blakeney and Morston since December.
Dead seals have been found with identical injuries off the coast of Fife over the last two years.
The investigation involves the Sea Mammal Research Unit, The Marine Management Organisation, RSPCA, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, Eastern Sea Fisheries, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
A dredger that has been used in Wells since the end of last year and machinery being used at the offshore Sheringham Shoal Windfarm have both been suggested as a possible cause of the deaths.
But insp Brown said: 'We are keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out, but of these theories look unlikely to be the cause.
'Some post-mortem results have come back and a further 13 seals are undergoing postmortem examinations. We know that the seals will have lost an awful lot of blood, so there must be one heck of a scene when these deaths occur.
'Further post-mortem results will help us determine the locations and times of the deaths. I'm particularly interested in finding out why the seals are appearing in this small area, because the east to west tide would make it more likely for them to be more spread out.
Anyone with information should contact insp Brown on 0845 4564567.