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April 13, 2011

We Watch as Infant Seal Dies Slowly

Humane Society International/Canada

  • A seal cries out in pain during his last moments. Frank Loftus/The HSUS

by Rebecca Aldworth

I am flying over the sealing grounds with the Protect Seals team, watching in horror as a bloodbath occurs beneath me.

The sealers try to claim that this is a slaughter of adult animals. But they’re killing ragged jackets out here. These are newborn seals who have just started to shed their white coats—only a couple of weeks of age.

Below us is a seal just starting to lose his baby fur. A shot rings out and he is hit in the neck. Blood flows and he looks around in terror. He is so young and he has no idea what is happening to him. He just knows he is in pain, and he is suffering. From 1,000 feet in the air, I can see him crying in agony.

Take action to stop the slaughter

For a full minute, he is left in anguish and fear. Finally, the moving ice floes signal the approach of the sealing boat. My heart breaks as I see the baby seal look up in panic and try to crawl away. A sealer jumps off the boat onto the ice, and swings a club at the terrified pup. He misses. But then again and again, the club swings down.

Seemingly without checking to see if the animal is unconscious, the sealer throws him roughly onto the boat.

There are simply no words to describe the utter helplessness, misery and frustration you feel here, prevented by law and distance from saving the animals who fall victim to this barbaric slaughter. To see a two-week-old seal fight so hard for his life, to see him meet such an unfair and terrible end, is almost unbearable.

I know the horror we film is shutting this awful slaughter down. That each life taken here will mean something for the millions more that will be spared. But right now, that offers little consolation, as we witness firsthand the atrocities that are being committed in the harp seal nursery.

No more seals should die needlessly. Take action so that this never happens again.

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

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