British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue

News

2014-11-06 12:42:40

'Corkscrew Cut' Seals Report Published

Following extensive research, the Sea Mammal Research Unit based at the University of St Andrews has published its final report to the Scottish Government, looking into the deaths of seals around the UK that have been called 'Corkscrew' seals due to the strange cuts that spiral around their bodies.

By using models of seal bodies, various types of propellors were tested to see which kind would result in similar injuries.  In their report, the conclusions supported the belief that ducted propulsion systems were the most likely to have caused the large number of seal deaths.  The report states:

We can conclude that ducted propulsion systems were the only mechanism which produced spiral lacerations under these test conditions. Consequently observations on candidate vessels are vital to gain a better understanding of the circumstances under which these interactions can occur in coastal regions. Viable mitigation can then be developed to reduce the number of cases and protect seal populations.

A PDF copy of the full report, entitled Testing the hypothetical link between
shipping and unexplained seal deaths: Final report can be downloaded from our Resources and Downloads page or by clicking here.

An earlier paper that looked into the incidence of seal bodies exhibiting these cuts, entitled Report on recent seal mortalities in UK waters caused by extensive lacerations October 2010 can be downloaded here.

It is hoped that following this report, operators of the vessels that utilise ducted propulsion systems will look at ways of avoiding such incidents.

Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager
Map courtesy of SMRU