Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dead seals to be autopsied

Total now more than 200 in past two weeks -

St. Anthony — A charter plane full of frozen harp seal carcasses may not sound like exciting cargo, but its arrival in St. Johns last week was hotly anticipated by scientists.

The Twin Otter travelled up to Baffin Island and back down along the Labrador coast picking up the frozen seals that washed ashore over the past fortnight.

Its final stop was St. Anthony airport, where five seals found at Eddies Cove East last week were loaded and flown to the capital city, where Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists hope to unravel the mystery behind their deaths.

DFO seal expert Garry Stenson said last week more than 200 harp seals had washed ashore over the past two weeks for no apparent reason.

The first reports came from The Northern Pen, which informed DFO of dead seals washing ashore following the Christmas Eve storm surge that struck St. Lunaire-Griquet, Great Brehat and St. Carol’s.

Since then, the deaths have mounted,