A New Killer in Town?

With what may come as a surprise to many is the the less than heartfelt habits displayed by the Gray Seal. For over a decade now, Dutch beaches have seen mutilated harbor porpoises (Dolphin cousins) washed up on local beaches. This has become a large mystery until recently when the culprit was discovered to be none other than the supposed cute and cuddly Gray Seal. This canine cousin is actually the largest predator in the southern portion of the North Sea and have recently been being called the new “Great White” of the waters.


(Photograph: JOKOS78 via iStockPhoto)

These strange animals have actually managed to develop murderous tendencies in the past decade and have gotten away with it until just recently when marine biologist noticed canine bite marks in some of the aquatic victims drifting onto the shore. These animals, usually like other seals, normally maintain a diet of fish, mainly cod. Now recently, along with the thousands of washed up dead porpoises, a gray seal was seen mutilating a fellow harbor seal after playing together. While a photographer was following the two seals around at one point the waves began turning red and the gray seal was spotted skinning its seal cousin.

Creepy seal

(Photograph: Brian J. Skerry via National Geographic)

To put a scope on the mutilation behind these washed up dead critters, many scientists have been skeptical and have been blaming the deaths on boat propellors and also local sharks. However, even beyond the skepticism, there have been several eye witness reports documenting these killings all over the southern North Sea. Is it really a mystery though? Very few animals in the ocean have the capability to leave “canine” like bite marks in their victims. Not only that, but a very specific cousin of the Gray Seal, the leopard seal, can be seen with very similar predatory habits so is it really that far-fetched? Just something to think about next time you see a ‘cute and cuddly’ seal wandering around your beach. You’re welcome.


(photo credit: Ron McCombe)

[Via National Geographic and AAAS]

[cover photo credit: Slater Museum of Natural History]


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