The remains of a juvenile grey seal washed up on a private beach in West Falmouth near the Falmouth Cliffs and Old Silver Beach Monday, August 5.
Maureen Campanella of Uncatena Road discovered the dead seal while walking her dog on the beach. She called the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which sent a representative to determine the cause of death Tuesday, August 6.
Audrey White of IFAW, who examined the seal, told Ms. Campanella that, typically, if a weanling seal strays too far from its mother, it becomes vulnerable to shark attack. However, the seal on the West Falmouth beach was a juvenile, older than a pup or weanling, and it might have been dead up to four days.
Shark attacks and entanglement in nets or fishing line are the most common causes of death in young seals, according to IFAW.
Ms. White ruled out shark attack or boat strike, and Ms. Campanella found fishing line and tackle as well as bits of netting wedged in a jetty near the seal’s body.
Ms. White took tissue samples from the seal as well as samples of the fishing line and tackle. She suggested that Ms. Campanella allow the tide to take the seal.
“In more than 20 years, I have not seen one seal in the bay near Old Silver Beach, but fishermen using live bait brings seals,” Ms. Campanella said.
Drag marks on the beach showed that someone had moved the seal from the water line up to the rocks of the jetty, Ms. Campanella said, noting that while it is not conclusive that netting killed the seal, it is probable.