Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘Corkscrew killings’ of seals linked to propeller systems - is it proof?

The Corkscrew Killer Mystery seems to have been solved...for the moment.

You will remember our wine challenge to researchers in the U.K?

The Challenge

Underwater Thrills is officially offering a fine bottle (signed) of 2005 Floodplain Proprietor Red from Napa Valley, California to any U.K researcher who can prove without a doubt that the Corkscrew Killer is in fact a man made object or machine.

Latest Update - The Herald

Researchers at the University of St Andrews have dismissed claims that sharks, killer whales, illegal traps, fisheries or even deliberate mutilation could have caused the “corkscrew killings”.

Since August 2009, 33 dead seals have washed up on beaches bearing a single, smooth-edged cut that starts at the head and spirals down the body. The bizarre lacerations were widely attributed to shark attacks.

However, experts at the University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), in conjunction with the RSPCA and the Scottish Agricultural College, have concluded the injuries were most likely caused by the ducted propeller systems on ships operating in shallow coastal waters.

The research leader, Dr David Thompson, said: “Investigations have revealed a number of features that show the injuries are entirely consistent with the animals being sucked through large, ducted propellers.

“Our methods included scaled simulations using models that show how the spiral injuries can be created, as well as fine-scale observation of the injuries themselves that show the lacerations were made by the seals rotating against a smooth edged blade, while being dragged past the blade by a powerful force.

“Most diagnostic of all has been the imprint on some animals of the serrated ‘rope cutter’ that is present on most of these types of ducted propellers to stop ropes getting entangled in the propellers”.

To date, most of the injuries have been seen in the Tay and Forth estuaries, north Norfolk in England and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The injuries involve a severe, sudden and deadly trauma. Both grey and harbour seals have been involved, but the carcasses recovered were mainly harbour seals.

Complete Story.

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