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Seal entangled in dangerous netting escapes

The seal caught in netting - Photos: John Moncrieff

A DIFFICULT seal rescue ended unexpectedly when the creature freed itself from life-threatening netting.

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary received a call on Tuesday evening about a grey seal pup caught in monofilament net.

Pictures taken by local wildlife photographer John Moncrieff who found the seal showed a deep gash around its neck where the netting was embedded.

Early on Wednesday sanctuary owners Jan and Pete Bevington headed down to Exnaboe, near Sumburgh airport, where the seal lay tangled up at the head of a steep gulley.

However as they descended down the rocks, the seal colony all escaped into the sea apart from the tangled seal, which was stuck fast on the rocks by the netting.

The seal then started to panic just as the couple reached it, and tugged so hard that it broke free of the netting and slipped away under the waves, leaving the netting behind.

“We would have preferred to capture the seal so that we were 100 per cent certain all the netting was off, and we could have taken it back to the sanctuary to build up its strength,” Jan Bevington said.

“The wound was quite deep, but we think it will be OK and heal in the salt water.

“The trouble is we saw another seal there with monofilament netting tight around its neck, which we could not help.

“This netting has been banned, and is incredibly dangerous for wildlife. It is so fine it is almost invisible, it digs deep into their flesh and it never biodegrades.”