Coastguard called to identify 'dead seal or porpoise' on Rossall beach

The Fleetwood coastguard was called out yesterday to an animal carcass on Rossall beach that had rotted beyond recognition.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 12:30 pm
The dead animal was determined to be a seal. Picture by Fleetwood coastguard

The team was called to reports of 'a porpoise or possibly a seal' on the sands close to the NCI Rossall Tower.

A coastguard spokesman said: "Uncertainty was due to the fact that the carcass had been subject to a combination of decomposition, being eaten by other creatures and erosion by rocks. At first glance, the carcass could have been either a seal or a porpoise, both being mammals, but the presence of a tell-tale bit of fur indicated that it was a young seal."

The coastguard is usually tasked with investigating the remains of dolphins, porpoises, orcas or any other marine mammal on behalf of the Natural History Museum in London.

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The museum keeps track of the distribution of marine mammal populations around the coast and tries to establish the common causes of deaths, from natural causes and disease to being struck by boat propellers or tangled in fishing nets.

The coastguard recorded the location of the dead seal and took measurements and photographs. It was then disposed of by Wyre Council.

They said; "If the body is fresh we can arrange for the carcass to undergo a post-mortem examination to establish the cause of death. If decomposed, as is generally the case, we arrange for the carcass to be collected by the local council for disposal.

"One point worthy of note is that carcasses of this nature harbour some very nasty bacteria so we adopt aseptic procedures with nitrile gloves and thorough decontamination subsequent to our measurement. Please refrain from touching a carcass without such protection."

Anyone who discovers an animal carcass on the beach is asked to call the coastguard's nearest control centre in Holyhead on 01407 762051.