Seal deaths mystery solved

The grey seals around Blakeney Point are an iconic part of life in North Norfolk, with seasonal boat trips from Blakeney and Morston quays taking residents and visitors to see the seals and their pups.

So, when 46 seals were found dead along the coast from Wells-next-the-Sea to Blakeney from March 2009 to August 2010 passions ran high.

The dead seals all had corkscrew-like injuries around their necks, and initial investigations suggested that the injuries could have been caused by the seals becoming caught up in ducted propellers on vessels working on the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, which was being built off the North Norfolk coast at that time.

However a recent report by Dr David Thompson, the senior research scientist at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, which has been leading the investigations into these deaths, indicates that cannibalism was the cause of the deaths.

"Our investigations have led us to believe that it is highly likely cannibalism was the cause. We believe that adult grey seals were killing seal pups for food."

The breakthrough about the seal deaths came after a student researcher from the University of St Andrews saw an adult grey seal kill a pup on the Isle of May, east of Edinburgh.

The press release announcing this preliminary report can be found : here

The 317MW Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm comprises 88 wind turbines and is located between from 9-17 miles off the North Norfolk coast in the Greater Wash. Through Scria Offshore Energy Limited it is owned by two Norwegian companies, Statkraft and Statoil, and the UK's Green Investment Bank.

For further information please contact:

Torbjørn Steen
M: 0047 911 66 888


Nigel Tompkins
New Ideas for Business
T: 01263 822427
M: 07860 206565

Issue Date: 23-02-2015