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24 August 2010

Offshore wind farms reject "seal-killer" tag

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Wind farm developers refute allegations their vessels caused seal mutilations

Offshore wind farm developers implicated in a mysterious spate of seal deaths have vigorously denied allegations their construction vessels could be to blame.

Scientists investigating the killings believe the deaths were caused by a vessel with a ducted propeller that has caused "corkscrew-style" mutilations on the seals' bodies.

Callan Duck, a senior research scientist at St Andrews University Seal Mammal Research Unit, told that vessels operating between Statoil's Sheringham Shoal wind farm and Wells Harbour in North Norfolk might be the cause.

"Wind farms per se are not to blame," he said. "It's possible that some of the vessels involved in wind farm construction might be responsible, but we do not know that for sure."

At least 33 mutilated seals have been found washed ashore recently in Norfolk, St Andrews Bay and the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Similar unsolved seal deaths have also been reported off the Atlantic coast of Canada in the past decade.

However, engineering firm Scira, Sheringham Shoal's main contractor, denied the allegations.

"Both Scira and the police have checked all equipment on vessels operating at the site and found no connection," said Scira in a statement yesterday.

Meanwhile, harbour operator Wells Harbour Commissioners (WHC) issued a statement arguing that the boats accused of causing the injuries could not have been responsible.


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