A major investigation recently found that grey seals were the main reason for the mutilation of hundreds of harbor porpoises. The bodies of these creatures were found washed up on the shores of Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium and France, several years ago.
This has come as a shock to experts who previously thought the situation was being caused by fishermen and their boats. Experts are also shocked because they believed grey seals only tend to feed on fish, but clearly this is not the case anymore. After the conclusion of this study, researchers revealed that these seals possess the ability to take down larger prey.
The research took experts 8-years to complete, as no one expected grey seals to be the culprit, so they were looking elsewhere for answers without realizing what was actually taking place.
According to Wageningen University and Research Center, “Grey seals use their ‘hands’ to hold large prey and their teeth to tear off bits and pieces, so they do not have to swallow large prey whole. This is why they can also take on large prey.”
A grey seal weighs around 540 pounds, which is the creature’s primary weapon when holding down larger prey. The tactic is not always successful since several porpoises managed to escape with their lives, but not without bite or scratch marks.
Due to what researchers have found, they are warning tourists along with residents to do their best to stay away from seals. If the creatures are attacking larger prey, then it is possible for them to attack humans as well. In fact, seals are not known to kill humans, but there have been instances where humans were bitten, but none fatal.
There is no certainty as to why the grey seals chose to feed on porpoises. Maybe it has something to do with global warming or a possible low number of fishes due to fishermen or other creatures of the deep. One thing is for certain, however; grey seals are now a potential danger to humans, and folks should be extra careful when within their natural habitat.
Source: [The Royal Society]