Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Written in baby seal blood: "F@ck Off"
This seal was struck by the hunter and wounded before it escaped into the water so it is not included in Canada's quota of 275,000 seals this year.
On Monday the IFAW team continued to document Canada's commercial seal hunt off the east coast of Cape Breton. We saw four boats; two medium size boats and two small skiffs, along with the Coast Guard vessel. The boats were moving through the ice pans searching for the young pups. Although this is my seventh year documenting Canada's commercial seal hunt, one can never be completely prepared for the cruelty that we witness. We documented sealers both shooting seals from their boats and clubbing them on the ice.
I saw animals being shot from boats and injured; these young seals were not killed quickly or humanely like the Canadian government claims they are. One animal was crawling around on the ice bleeding for over a minute before the boat arrived and a sealer jumped down onto the ice pan to kill it with a club. It never ceases to amaze me that sealers see a seal crawling around on the ice suffering, yet they don't act quickly and shoot the animal again to put it out of it's misery.
IFAW documents the seal hunt for a few days a year and we can only be filming one boat at time. Yet every year we see animals being shot or clubbed and left to suffer. We see animals hooked and skinned alive, as we did yesterday. The most striking image from yesterday's footage involved a seal that was injured and then hooked in the face and dragged back to the boat. We were moving between boats and came across a sealer on the ice with what appeared to be a dead seal. He started writing in the snow with a bloody finger; the message was "F@ck Off".
As we were circling to get a better shot of his message to us, the seal that was on the ice behind him, tried to sit up! This was clearly not swimming reflex, this animal was still conscious. The sealer did not respond by taking action to quickly kill the seal as required by the Marine Mammal Regulations, instead he hooked it in the face and then proceeded to drag the animal across the ice and onto the boat, still alive. What we document out here is unacceptable and the world needs to see what only a few people have the ability to view in person. IFAW is here to document the hunt so that the world can see that this hunt is inherently cruel and is not monitored or enforced like the government claims.
More from IFAW.org
This seal was struck by the hunter and wounded before it escaped into the water. This is known as seal that has been struck and lost.
The following are eye-witness accounts from crewmembers onboard the Farley Mowat. The very witnessing of these events is considered illegal by the Canadian government.
We encountered the sealing vessel the Cathy Erlene, registered to Sydney NS. Upon approach we saw two small aluminum boats carrying two men each darting from ice floe to ice floe searching for baby seals. It seemed they had a system. The barbarians on the Cathy Erlene were cruising through the ice searching for the few seal pups there were. They carried on their disgusting massacre carelessly firing upon the unsuspecting babies, their only goal to find and maim the infants. We witnessed two helpless victims, meters from the ship writhing in agony, hot blood spilling onto the ice and heard their cries as they continued to suffer for a good long time awaiting the small boats to arrive and fulfill their doom. Stepping onto the ice the babies, still alive turn their heads to the approaching man with a club. There is nothing humane about this massacre. What I saw today I will never forget, their cries will fill my thoughts and torture my soul. I can say I am truly embarrassed to be of the same race as these cowards and ashamed to be a Canadian today.
-Shannon Mann, Canada
Nothing prepared me for this, no video or previous encounter with the sealers on the ice. I watched in horror and disgust as two murderers clammered from their small boat, club in hand, and smashed in the skull of a baby harp seal. For an hour or so my memories are fuzzy with blood, abuse and worst of all the cries of seals as they are brutally killed. We will do whatever we can to expose this unnecessary, disgusting slaughter of life. Canada can not continue to censor its dirty secret any longer.
- Laura Dakin UK
First sight of human life on the ice I see two men lifting a seal impaled through the neck onto a sealing boat... the seal was still moving. There was lots of ice covered with blood everywhere. There was a larger boat that the smaller boats were dropping off the seals to be skinned, one of the crew of the boat got up to wave smuggly at us. They were skinning them and throwing the seal carcasses back overboard. They call it a seal hunt but I don't think walking up to a stationary seal and smashing its head in is hunting, it is an act of pure cruelty. No wonder they don't want the rest of the world to see what is happening.
- Daniel Bishop, England
It is untrue to say that killing these seals is being done humanely. Today we have seen sealers shooting the baby seals to wound them so they can't flee, beating them with wooden clubs then killing them by cutting thearteries under their flippers. The seals die slowly and in pain. It is a horrible thing to see.
- Dr Merryn Redenbach, Australia
When I woke this morning I looked through the port hole and saw red patches of blood on the ice and I knew the seal hunt had begun. On the deck I immediately saw a small boat and two men who stopped on a little piece of ice in order to slaughter an innocent baby harp seal. Actually there were two small boats and one sealing ship. The hunters carried a hakapik and bashed the seal's head. Some of the seals were still alive when they were delivered back to the sealing ship where they were finally skinned.
- Anne Fourier, France