April 13, 2011
We Watch as Infant Seal Dies Slowly
His terror and pain are as obvious as his white fur
by Rebecca Aldworth
I am flying over the sealing grounds with the Protect Seals team, watching in horror as a bloodbath occurs beneath me.
Sealers claim this is a slaughter of adult animals. But they're killing ragged jackets—very young seal pups—out here. These are newborn seals who have just started to shed their white coats, only a couple of weeks old.
Below us is a baby seal just starting to lose his baby fur. A rifle blasts off a shot and he is hit in the neck. Blood stains his white fur and he looks around in terror. He is so young and he has no idea what is happening to him. All he knows is that he is in pain. From a thousand feet in the air I can see him crying in agony.
For a full minute, he is left to suffer. Finally, the moving ice floes signal the approach of the sealing boat. I see the baby seal look up in panic and try to crawl away. A sealer jumps onto the ice and swings a club at the terrified pup. He misses. But again and again the club swings down.
I do not see the sealer check whether the baby seal is unconscious. The man throws the pup roughly onto the boat.
There are simply no words to describe the misery and frustration we feel here, prevented by law and distance from saving the victims of this brutal slaughter. To see a two-week-old animal fight so hard for his life, to see him meet such an unfair end, is almost unbearable.
I know the evidence we film is shutting this horrible slaughter down. Each life taken here will mean something for the millions more who will be spared. That offers little consolation as we watch the atrocities committed in the harp seal nursery.
The world is watching the sealers, and public opinion will ultimately stop them. We urgently need your gift to help us expose the seal slaughter.
Rebecca Aldworth is director of Humane Society International Canada (HSI Canada).