Dead seal found with plastic around neck

Discovery on White Rock’s East Beach a gruesome reminder of litter’s danger to wildlife

Fisheries and Oceans Canada are investigating the death of a harbour seal that was found on White Rock’s East Beach this week with plastic wrapped around its neck.

Discovered late Monday afternoon, the animal had blood coming from its mouth and nose, and apparent head trauma, Pacific marine mammal co-ordinator Paul Cottrell told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

“It’s not clear if the plastic contributed to the death or not, but it definitely was tight on the animal,” Cottrell said. “It seems there’s multiple things going on.

“I noticed there is a significant round hole on the left side back portion of the head of the seal which may be a bullet entry point and might explain the fresh blood. Fishery officers will be involved if we confirm the animal was shot.”

DFO was notified of the carcass late Tuesday. White Rock resident Roger Jendral told PAN he found it around 5 p.m. the day before, not far from the bear statue.

“Its head was kind of lodged in the sand and the seaweed,” Jendral said. “When I pulled it out, it had a plastic bag around it.”

Noting blood had flowed from the carcass within a half hour, Jendral guessed it had died “fairly recently,” but said the wounds did not appear to be malicious.

He had his daughter take photos of the seal – which he noted was the third he’d come across since last Friday. (Cottrell told PAN he was aware of the other two: one was not a recent death, the other a seal pup; the latter is a common occurrence this time of year due to birthing complications.)

City of White Rock staff who responded to this week’s discovery also documented it with photos.

While Cottrell – a South Surrey resident whose expertise in whale disentanglement and other marine issues has often been detailed in PAN – said a closer review of the photos raised doubt in his mind as to the plastic’s role in the seal’s death, it will take a necropsy to know for sure. That, however, won’t be done until next week at the earliest, as veterinary pathologist Dr. Stephen Raverty is on the country’s East Coast investigating the recent deaths of seven rare right whales.

Cottrell said the seal is being stored in the City of White Rock’s animal freezer until the necropsy. It is to be conducted on Raverty’s return, at the provincial Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, he said.

In the meantime, both Cottrell and Jendral said the seal’s death – whether intentional or otherwise – is a reminder of the importance of putting garbage, and plastics in particular, where it belongs.

“Any plastic debris, to not put it in the ocean,” Cottrell said. “These guys are so susceptible to getting it wrapped around the neck. They’ll check it out and even sometimes ingest it. Anything with a circular opening, they’ll get their head in there.”

Jendral said he often picks up garbage along the city’s waterfront during walks.

Part of the problem, he said, is a lack of garbage cans.

“There’s no garbage cans but there’s a lot, a lot of traffic… constant garbage,” he said. “I find everything from syringes, diapers…

“There’s a lot of debris in the water and unfortunately, the wildlife suffers.”

Cottrell encouraged anyone who comes across an distressed or dead marine animal to immediately report it to DFO’s marine mammal hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

Just Posted

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

BC Cattlemen’s Association calls for remediation of firebreaks to prevent erosion, spread of invasive species

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

New group for parents of overdose victims launched by Langley mother

There is a lack of long-term resources for grieving parents

B.C. runner takes silver at Pan American cross-country championships

Tyler Dozzi’s medal pushes U20 Team Canada to gold finish

Coquitlam piano teacher accused of sex assault involving former students

Police say Dmytro Kubyshkin has been teaching in private homes for more than 20 years

UBCO students to get medical cannabis coverage

Kelowna - The pilot project will be implemented in April

BC BUDGET: NDP push for purpose-built rentals in ‘historic’ $1.6B investment

Hundreds of thousands of new low- and middle-income units coming over three years

Most Read