Thursday, February 02, 2006

CBC News: Storm surge sweeps newborn seals to their death

Hundreds of dead seal pups are expected to wash up on the shores of Nova Scotia in the aftermath of a severe winter storm.

A major storm surge on Wednesday swept scores of grey seal pups that had just been born on Pictou Island out to sea, where they drowned.

The adult seals came ashore on Pictou Island to give birth because there is little ice in the strait. (photo: Corrine Cameron)
Jane MacDonald, one of the 18 people who live on the island year round, watched in horror as the adult seals tried desperately to save their pups.

"The mothers just push them and push them with their nose, and they dive back under and push them back up, and they get back into the tide wash, and then a big wave will hit and just sweep them back out to sea," she said.

A small part of the herd made it to higher ground, MacDonald said, but hundreds of seal pups were washed away.

Grey seals prefer to give birth on ice floes. But with little ice in the strait this year, the estimated herd of 2,000 moved ashore to Pictou Island.

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