Dead porpoise with “huge bite marks” likely killed by seal

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A HALF-eaten porpoise washed up on a beach was probably the victim of a rare seal attack.

The remains were so badly mangled that social media users thought the porpoise had been attacked by a Killer Whale.

But experts who have examined the pictures say it is likely the creature fell victim to a grey seal off the Orkney island of Papa Westray.

Credit: Ross Jamieson

Dog-walker Ross Jamieson snapped very gory images showing what appeared to be two huge bite marks on the head of the sea creature and behind the dorsal fin.

On social media, Sandy MacDonald wrote: “Definitely a porpoise and likely an Orca attack. Unlikely to be anything else.”

Helen Iliffe-Adsett said: “Definitely porpoise but from our point of view… an interesting death. Never seen remains of an orca meal before!”

Dave Gray commented: “Once again I’m left marvelling at the fact that an Orca can apparently take two enormous bites out of a passing Porpoise but yet leaves humans alone.”

Credit: Ross Jamieson

But Nick Davidson, an experts with the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, offered a less obvious explanation.

He wrote: “I can confirm it’s a harbour porposie. It may actually be a victim of a grey seal attack rather than a killer whale.”

Although seals usually feed on fish rather than porpoises, they have been known to take on much larger prey.

In 2015 a video captured the moment a grey seal viciously attacked the normally elusive porpoise off the coast of Wales and began devouring it.

It is unknown what is behind this unusual behaviour, but it could be due to competition for food from an increasing seal population, or just opportunistic hunting.

Credit: Ross Jamieson

Whilst earlier this year, a video surfaced of a mother orca with her young calves hunting down a terrified porpoise.

Known as the ‘the wolves of the sea’ Orcas often hunt in packs to corral their prey, feeding on fish, birds, and other mammals, though it is believed they hun porpoises just for fun.

Mr Jamieson responded: “I was surprised to hear it was probably a grey seal which attacked it. There was such a large part of it missing that I thought the predator must have been a lot bigger than a seal.

“It must have had a good feast. Unless, of course, there was more than one seal.

“It must have washed up on the beach overnight – Monday night or Tuesday morning. I was walking my dog when I almost tripped over it.

“I walk my dog along this stretch of beach a few times a day. It certainly wasn’t there the day before.”

 
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