A decapitated seal pup found on Morriscastle Strand is a suspected victim of a human attack, making it the second such case in Wexford in recent weeks.
The seal was discovered on the beach yesterday (Monday) morning with a circular wound in its abdomen. According to CBS teacher Joe Ryan, who holds a degree in zoology, the shape of the wound indicates that it was attacked by a human.
'My first thought is that the seal may well have been shot with a rifle in the abdomen,' he explained. 'The shape of the wound on the surface is the giveaway that it was hit by something that was a regular shape such as a rifle bullet and not a shotgun cartridge. At the very least, this would have disabled the seal in the water.'
According to Joe, the attack was likely to have taken place within 24 hours prior to discovery. Along with the gunshot wound, the Common Seal pup had also been decapitated.
'Clearly the head has been cut off but it seems that the base of the vertebrae at the bottom of the neck was too thick to cut through with a knife so it wasn't a clean cut,' he said. 'The person then moved up the spine. It is clear that the removal of the head was botched, if I can call it that.'
'I hope the seal died from the gunshot as otherwise, it would have had an agonising death being hacked apart over a number of minutes.'
The horrific incident is the second suspected attack on a seal pup in Wexford in recent weeks. In October, Joe Ryan came across a pup in a similar state while walking on the beach at Rosslare Strand.
Speaking about the incident last month he said:
'I'm working on the presumption that someone at sea saw this pup and did that to it. I reckon it was a fisherman, but it may not have been, I am not jumping to conclusions,' he said. 'Seal numbers are on the way up and the fishermen see a battle between them and the seals regarding fish stocks. I understand that people are under financial pressure but you can't kill a species for financial reasons.'