Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is warning people about the dangers animals face from marine litter after a headless seal was found on a Lincolnshire beach, which it believes had “probably been dead for several months”.
Families and dog walkers warned others to avoid a section of Anderby Creek after the shocking discovery was made on Sunday, January 2, although the dead seal may have been there even longer.
Images show a clean, straight cut along the animal’s neck, and the skull remained next to the carcass.
The carcass appeared to have large chunks missing from the body and tail, and many people reached out to wildlife organisations and East Lindsey District Council for help to remove the seal, and to find answers.
Although it is still not fully clear how the seal suffered the fatal injuries, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust believe it may have become entangled in net and is warning people about how devastating an impact marine litter can have.
In a statement to The Lincolnite, the trust said: “The seal on the beach at Anderby Creek is very decomposed and has probably been dead for several months and floating out to sea. Recent winds and tides finally brought it to the coast.
“It’s not possible to determine exactly what has happened to the seal but the straight line cut around the shoulder may have been because of entanglement in net which has garrotted the animal.
“Scavengers and decomposers find it easier to start attacking the head as there are easy portals to get a mouthful/toothhold, for example, of eyes, ears, mouth etc. The head can get easily removed as there is only a small part of the spine holding it onto the body. Going in straight to the torso is quite difficult for scavengers as the skin is tough.
“It’s tragic to see a dead seal washed up on the beach in this way but it highlights the dangers the animals face from netting, rope and other discarded waste in the marine environment.
“The impact of marine litter is huge – one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed by plastic litter every year around the world.
“Join us in helping to keep Lincolnshire’s beaches clean and safe for wildlife by coming along to one of our New Year beach clean events this weekend at Huttoft Car Terrace and Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve.”
Local dad Paul Williams, who stumbled across the upsetting sight with his family, first thought the injuries were like those left by a shark attack.
His wife Haley said: “There are no drag marks so it doesn’t appear to have been moved by something. The seal has an injury to its tummy and tail too. It does look like an attack. Poor seal. I hope it had already passed away when it was attacked.”
Haley returned to the site later the same day to further investigate and said the wounds were “circular cuts removing the head, abdomen and tail. She added: “I think someone has done it, and my hunch is someone has cut into its abdomen to look for or remove a pup.”