Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sacrificial Harp Seals

Arrived at Cape Spear this morning excited for the opportunity to see Ivory Gulls and Polar Bears. Ended up being one of the most dramatic and grisly visits to the point.

With the help of a number of large low pressure systems, pack ice has encompassed the Eastern Avalon for the first time in over a decade (probably decades). With it there are hundreds if not thousands of harp seals - particularly young, weeks old, harp seals. These young'uns are riding the pack ice regardless of where it takes them - and today the pack ice took hundreds of them on a direct collision course for North Americas most Easterly point: Cape Spear. Normally this wouldn't be so disastrous, but today was a windless day following the passage of a significant low pressure system churning up the ocean to our East = massive swells breaking at the point.

With an ocean full of small-house & truck-sized ice-boulders being tossed around like children's toys the seals really had no chance once their chosen ice-pan ferried them close to shore.

It was a gory scene with one seal after another being flung into the air and battered down by the ice. They had no chance to survive with these tsunamis of ice.


If you look at the chunks of ice in these waves you'll hopefully appreciate the energy that was out there today!


One of many harp seals approaching its end:








A cruel way to go:









Every one of these seals suffered a similar fate today...
Nature can be a cruel beast, but at times it is astonishingly glamorous:

One seal miraculously made it beyond the war-zone and was waiting out the tempest on shore:




Gulls were migrating North along the Eastern Avalon today in big numbers. Hundreds of Herring Gulls, and Glaucous Gulls by the tens.

Mobs of Black-legged Kittiwakes were going North as well: 


2 comments:

  1. That's heartbreaking .... so tough life for these guys and we have the terrible sealing industry where the government of Canada allows them to be clubbed to death. Disgusting industry we must stop. Too bad the EU ban did not stop it entirely but it's coming soon people are getting too educated about animals being sentient. Maybe going by the sea is a better fate...

    Nice cute shot of you and the baby seal.

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