Wednesday, January 7, 2009
One very happy, hungry, and ingenious harbor seal found its way into a state fish hatchery sometime Monday night and had a ball of a time snacking to its heart's content until a hatchery worker discovered its whereabouts on Tuesday morning. The seal was found frolicking in the holding tanks, and didn't exactly go quietly when the muscle from the Cape Cod Stranding Network removed her from her ill-gotten gains.
The kicker is that the hatchery is two miles inland - meaning the seal successfully waddled for a thousand feet or so without being noticed to commit its mischief. The supposed route might have included utilizing a tunnel to go under a major road and sneaking across a mini-golf course unseen.
The female seal was in good health, and the Cape Cod Stranding Network was sure to tag her before releasing her back into the sea. Click on the photo to see the Cape Cod Time's photo gallery of the event.
Lucky for this seal, she decided to go after a US hatchery.
Harbor seals commonly winter around Cape Cod, and have been often targeted by fisheries, who claim they "compete" for food resources. In Canada and the UK, it's legal to shoot harbor seals to protect fisheries or fish farms, and in the UK such shooting doesn't have to be reported under the "Fisheries Defence Clause" of the Conservation of Seals Act. Conservationists estimate that thousands may be shot in Scotland fisheries every year.
Seals are so blamed for reduced fish stocks that culls are requested, despite the fact that killing seals has not been shown to effectively raise fish populations because of the complexity of the marine food web. Many populations are only now recovering from culling in the 1970s.
So while the story is funny and entertaining, the sad note is that many ingenious seals are probably killed every year for similar behavior in their northern habitats.