Monday, March 8, 2010

Seal Carcass on Manomet beach Sunday, March 7. 2010

NECWA intern Nick Schromburg and staff member Krill Carson, were called by the New England Aquarium Marine Rescue Team to check out a possible seal carcass that had been reported by a family in Manomet. It was a beautiful Sunday morning as Nick and Krill headed down to the beach in search of this animal. The tide was low and many harbor seals were hauled out on the rocks just off the shoreline. These seals looked big and fat a sign that they are feeding well in our waters offshore.

It wasn't long before Nick and Krill found a small seal carcass located just above the high tide line. By the size of the carcass and the color of the fur, it was clear that this was a very young seal that had been born this spring. Because the head was missing (probably due to scavengers like coyotes) a positive ID was not possible. But given the time of year and the features of the carcass (such as the white coat of long fur) our best guess is that this was probably a gray seal pup that had recently been weaned by its mom. The first year of any seal's life is very difficult and this results in a high mortality rate for these beautiful and amazing marine mammals.

Nick worked with Krill to document the carcass by collecting location information, photographs and by conducting an external exam. On the way back to the car, Nick and Krill spent time picking up various items of trash that was littered on the beach. The best find of the day was a lawn mower which Nick was able to drag back to the car. They were able to document at least 8 broken lobster traps and hundreds of yards of fishing line tangled together in a confused manner. Unfortunately, the large size and weight of these objects made it impossible for Krill and Nick to remove them from the beach area.

But taking a few seconds to pick up fishing line and plastic items like bottles and jugs is a simple way that we can help make the marine environment cleaner for seals and for other marine wildlife. NECWA will be sponsoring a number of beach clean-ups this season and we hope you will be able to attend. Annual beach clean-ups help removed thousands of pounds of trash from our beaches each year. And since much of this trash can refloat on a high tide, it permanently removes this material from the marine environment.