With a puncture wound in its back, this dead seal – found on the Northumberland coast – is believed to have been shot.
The adult creature was discovered by passers-by on the sands of Seaton Point and was reported on Saturday.
And Alnwick-based Jane Hardy, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, has reported the issue to wildlife-crime officers, fearing that it could have been an illegal act.
Fishermen can legally shoot seals which are interfering with their nets at sea. But it is illegal for anyone to shoot the mammals when they are resting on beaches.
Mammal medic Jane went out to the rotting carcass on Sunday. She said: “At this time of year, you often get shot seals because it coincides with the salmon run, and this one did look like it had been shot. I don’t know the circumstances behind it and I am not getting at all fishermen, and I am not anti-fishing, but I am against rogue fishermen/wildlife crimes. It is cruel to shoot a seal and it is also the fact that a rotting, decaying carcass is on the beach in the middle of the summer season.”
Last year, the Gazette reported that there had been numerous reports of seals appearing to have been shot.
Campaign group Sea Shepherd is offering a reward to anyone who supplies photographic/video evidence leading to the prosecution of anyone illegally killing seals.