[MARMAM] New publication on corkscrew seals: grey seal cannibalism showing strong evidence as to the cause of spiral lacerations in phocids.

Joseph Onoufriou jojo.onoufriou at gmail.com
Fri Jun 3 07:42:28 PDT 2016

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of our paper:

Brownlow A, Onoufriou J, Bishop A, Davison N and Thompson D (2016)
Corkscrew Seals: Grey Seal (*Halichoerus grypus*) Infanticide and
Cannibalism May Indicate the Cause of Spiral Lacerations in Seals. PLoS ONE
11(6): e0156464. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156464

The open-source link to the article can be found at:


Large numbers of dead seals with characteristic spiral lesions have been
washing ashore around the North Atlantic over the past two decades.
Interactions with ship propellers and shark predation have been suggested
as the likely causal mechanisms. However, new evidence points towards a
more likely candidate: grey seal predation. An adult male grey seal was
observed and recorded catching, killing and eating five weaned grey seal
pups over a period of one week on the Isle of May, Scotland. A further 9
carcasses found in the same area exhibited similar injuries. Post mortem
analysis of lesions indicated the wound characteristics were similar to
each other and in 12 of the 14 carcasses analysed, were indistinguishable
from carcasses previously attributed to propeller interaction. We therefore
propose that most of the seal carcasses displaying spiral lacerations in
the UK are caused by grey seal predation. Cases in other locations should
be re-evaluated using the scoring system presented here to identify whether
grey seal predation is a major cause of mortality in phocid seals.

For more information contact: jo26 at st-andrews.ac.uk
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