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April 11, 2011

Seal's Agony Continues After Gunshot

The cruelty is obvious even at a distance

Humane Society International/Canada

  • sealers hook a young seal and haul him to their boat

    Sealers hooked a young seal with a gaff from their boat. Frank Loftus/The HSUS

by Rebecca Aldworth

From 1,000 feet in the air, this slaughter is as shocking as ever.

Beneath us, a fat baby seal lies on a small ice pan. As a sealing boat roars toward him, he looks up, bewildered. A shot rings out, and he is hit. Rolling onto his back, he slides slowly into the water. For a moment, it seems he might be dead. But then, his flippers begin to move as his blood slicks across the ocean.

A sealing boat comes towards him, trapping him between two ice pans. He keeps moving, but the boat continues pushing the ice mercilessly onto him. As the ice crushes his tiny body, more blood spreads through the water, and he moves frantically. Then, a smaller boat arrives, and another shot rings out.

Leaning over, the sealers attempt to hook him with a gaff. Finally, they give up and just grasp his flippers and pull him onto the boat. There, on a bloody floor, they club him to death.

Help stop the slaughter

These are the worst days. As much as I try to take comfort in the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of baby seals are living through this slaughter because of our work, I am face-to-face with the fact that we have not yet truly saved the seals.

Miles to go

A reporter asked me today if maybe we hadn't already won our campaign. After all, in an area where normally hundreds of sealing boats operate, today we saw just four. How I would love for that to be the case—that we could all celebrate the ultimate victory for the seals.

But while these helpless babies continue to die in horrible ways out here—until Canada bans commercial sealing as the U.S. did in 1972—we cannot stop. Not for a minute. Not until the seals are finally safe.

Will you help us reach the tipping point? See a list of actions you can take.

Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of Humane Society International/Canada (HSI Canada).

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