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Byline: AMY COLES Reporter

ADEAD seal which washed up on a Pembrokeshire beach with a wound the "size of a dinner plate" might have been bitten by a shark.

The pup was photographed by Dan Moar, who was walking on Abereiddy beach when he stumbled across the seal corpse.

There were several dead pups around but this one left Dan "scratching his head" due to the wound. Mr Moar said: "I came across something that really got me scratching my head.

"There have been dead seal pups washed up everywhere but this one was different.

"I did a quick search online and the only images I could find that were similar were of seals in South Africa that had been attacked by Great White sharks.

"The bite mark was huge, bigger than a dinner plate. The seal was about four to five feet long."

Dan Jarvis, welfare development and field support officer with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said this pup was not killed by a Great White shark, but added that it could have been bitten by another type of shark after it died.

He said: "It's not a Great White shark.

"That's not to say Great Whites are not in British waters and this kind of thing doesn't happen in the future.

"In terms of scavenging from a carcass, it is possible it was bitten by a shark after it died.

"A few shark species are in British waters that would scavenge in that way.

"But without a post mortem it is impossible to say if the injury was made before or after death."

There have been many reports of dead seals washing up on the Pembrokeshire coastline in recent weeks.

At the end of October the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said around 50 seal pups were killed in storms Ophelia and Brian.

The youngsters' deaths had a devastating impact on the total population of Atlantic grey seal pups on Skomer Island, where charity workers have been monitoring their numbers for years.

However, Mr Jarvis said the wound could have been caused by other species of Welsh wildlife.

He said: "There are other things that can cause this.

"In Cornwall we have had a few cases of fresh carcasses reported to us, and when we have gone down there they have been scavenged by British sea birds and it's shocking how much damage can be done.

"It can start as a small wound and that gets opened up and pecked around."

But he admitted that it is impossible to say for sure what could have eaten the seal pup.

He added: "It's really hard to confirm that. There is no funding in England and Wales for post-mortem exams on seals."


The dead seal on Abereiddy beach with the bite mark similar to that of a shark DAN MOAR

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 5, 2017
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