Video of seal eating swan has wildlife experts baffled

Video of seal eating swan has wildlife experts baffled

A still from the video of a seal eating a swan in the River Lee.

A VIDEO of a seal eating a swan in the River Lee by Parliament Bridge has experts going a little crazy.

The solitary bird was filmed by a local floating dead on the water before the head of a cheeky grey seal pup surfaces and chomps on a portion of the wing.

Grey seals and harbour seals are often spotted along the Lee looking to catch some salmon but are not known to target swans.

Seal expert Dr Mark Jessop of the Environmental Research Institute at UCC said it is not common behaviour but the seal could have killed the swan if it sensed an opportunity.

However, he has ruled out the possibility it has anything to do with last week's adverse weather conditions affecting fish stocks or any other environmental issues.

“It's quite unusual. I imagine if the seal had tried to kill the swan it would have put up quite a fight. Seals are very opportunistic predators and quite often if a seal thinks it has got a chance, it will have a try,” he told the Evening Echo.

“Generally, animals would see or feel the seal coming at it from underneath and fly off before it can do anything. I've never seen or heard of a seal attacking and killing a swan but I can't imagine what else would have killed the swan.

“From the video, it doesn't look thin or unhealthy and had died somewhere and drifted so it is quite possible the seal has killed it.

“Seals are very fast and catch salmon, which is quite a fast fish. However, they don't tend to focus on one particular prey source so I think it's quite likely it saw an opportunity and went for it,” he added.

Rory McGarry, who filmed the video, said those who saw the incident couldn't say for sure if the seal had killed the swan.

“I was just on my way to work and I saw a load of people looking at the river. I saw this white thing floating and it appeared there was something underneath it, disturbing it,” he said.

“I took a closer look and I could clearly see it was a swan at that stage. Shortly after that, the seal's head popped up and it started biting on it as they were floating along the river.

“Maybe the seal did kill the swan but it was definitely dead when I got there,” he added.

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