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April 10, 2010

Seal Hunt 2010: To Be a Baby Seal

A "Live from the Ice" dispatch from Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada

Humane Society International

  • A baby seal lies in a pool of her own blood on an ice pan. Gray Mitchell/HSI

  • A sealer hooks a weeks-old, slaughtered baby seal. Gray Mitchell/HSI

  • What's left behind from a cruel slaughter: a bloody boat and silent, blood-stained ice. Gray Mitchell/HSI

Up here in a helicopter, observing Canada’s commercial seal hunt, you witness each baby seal subjected to a slow and torturous death. For the sealing industry, the deaths of these seals are just statistics—a percentage of the quota filled, another skin to sell.

But imagine being that pup.

The bullet tears into you. You are only three weeks old, and you don't  understand what has happened—why you are in so much pain.  You try to crawl desperately, to escape the agony. You see another pup  close to you on the ice, and you turn toward her, only to see a  bullet rip through her.

Your blood spills out behind you as you drag yourself toward the only safety around—the water. But you don't yet know how to swim, and you stare helplessly into it. Another bullet slams into you, and you scream. And then you hear the roar of the boat engine, the shouts of the sealers. You have never seen a human before, but somehow you know they mean to hurt you.

You are far too young to be able to defend yourself, but, pathetically, you try to make a stand, rearing your head back as the sealer approaches. It is all you can do.
But instead of mercy, you see a bloody club raised in the air. The club smashes into your face, stunning you momentarily, as blood pours out of you.

But you are not dead. In fact, you’re still conscious. The sealer takes a metal hook and stabs it through your jaw, then drags you along. You are in so much pain, and you clench your tail, but no one takes notice. Instead, still another torture awaits, as the sealers awkwardly impale you on a second hook, this time through the flipper.

Together, two men attempt to hoist your body on board, the steel hooks slicing through your body. You are slammed onto the deck of the boat. But you are still not dead.
Finally, a sealer realizes this, and he reaches over for his club. As you watch that club smash down, you realize you are dying. In your short life, you have only experienced pain and misery at the hands of these humans.

And you can only wonder, "Why are you doing this to me?"

This is Canada’s commercial seal slaughter. This is what takes place every year in the name of fashion—these baby seals mean nothing more to the sealers than however much their fur coats can bring. They cannot fight for themselves, so we have to. The cowards who rip the skins from the backs of these helpless animals must face opponents, and we are those opponents. We must be the voice of every seal pup they have beaten to death to make a quick buck.

We must sound the cries of every wounded, brutalized baby seal killed out here, merging them into a single shout loud enough to be heard in the farthest corners of our planet: "End. It. Now.”
Help us expose the suffering of these baby seals to the world. Tell everyone. Help us end it now.

Please support the end of the seal hunt in Canada: donate to save seals, or sign the pledge to boycott seafood from Canada»

Rebecca Aldworth is executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. For the past decade, she has been a firsthand observer of Canada's commercial seal hunt, escorting more than 100 scientists, parliamentarians and journalists to the ice floes to witness the slaughter.

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