Beheaded seals discovered on Kerry beach

The carcasses have been found by a member of the public at Banna beach. 
Beheaded seals discovered on Kerry beach

There are approximately 8,000-10,000 grey seals and about 5,000 harbour seals in Ireland. File picture.

Beheaded seals have been found on Banna beach in Co Kerry in recent days.

Speaking to Jerry O'Sullivan on Kerry Today, Niamh Stephenson, who lives in the area, said the discovery was "pretty disturbing" and wanted to raise the issue as she has come across dead headless seals on two occasions in the last two weeks. She also recently found another headless seal carcass at another time before. 

The first time she thought that a dog or another animal was responsible for the mutilations and said it can be "quite distressing to come across" the carcasses when trying to access the beach. 

"From what I could see the heads of the seals seem to have been removed," she said and later ruled out animals as a possible cause after finding two more seals at the weekend.

Ms Stephenson said it does not look like an animal has interfered with the dead seals this time as "they [the heads] seem to be more cleanly taken off."  

Ms Stephenson highlighted the protected status of seals and wanted to know what the cause was. "Seals are a protected species so I suppose I was concerned. I don't know what's causing it," she said 

"It's just the frequency [...] that these seals seem to be washed up, I'm asking is something happening? 

It was from my own personal use of the beach that I came across this and thought: 'This isn't right. This shouldn't be happening.' 

"It certainly not what families and young people and older people and people who are enjoying the beach want to see when they visit Banna at the weekend," she said, "what's flagged it to me to be honest is the frequency that its happened to be honest".

Ms Stephenson said she spoke with another person who saw headless seal bodies recently at Ballybunion beach and was concerned that this was happening elsewhere in the county. 

Ms Stephenson raised the recent concerns about overfishing and Ireland's large seal population reducing depleted stocks and said from her own research that a number of culling licenses or seals had been applied for at the Department of Heritage. 

She wondered if this was a possible cause but was keen to stress that she doesn't know the answers. 

"It's no like I've been going out seeking to find these, I've just been on my walk and come across it on a number of occasions over a short space of time that kind of flagged to me is there something else going on here," she said.


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