Dead seal found tied to cement-bag anchor

Someone wanted it to swim with the fishes, but the beach had more pull.

A dead and decomposing harbor seal made at least three stops along the sand and rocks northwest of Langley this past week, complete with a rope tied around it and attached to a bag of cement.

“It looked like someone was trying to get rid of a stinky carcass,” Susan Berta of the Central Puget Sound Mammal Stranding Network said Monday.

The first sighting took place last Wednesday on Baby Island at the entrance to Holmes Harbor. The next report came the next day from Whidbey Shores about a mile east, and the third came from nearby East Point on Saturday afternoon.

“We don’t know where it is now,” Berta said.

She said the stranding network dispatched a volunteer to investigate the Baby Island report.

Berta said that based on the extensive deterioration of the carcass and the newness of the rope, it was concluded that foul play was not involved.

She said it was impossible to determine the cause of death, but the seal was about five feet long, was probably about two years old and weighed well over 100 pounds.

“The bag of cement wasn’t heavy enough to sink it,” Berta said.

She said that when the investigation on behalf of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division was complete, the seal, rope and bag of cement were left where they were found. The tides did the rest.

“We usually leave them so the eagles can feed on them,” she said. “It wasn’t in front of anyone’s house.”

Berta said her organization gets three or four calls per day regarding harbor seals, mostly in the spring when seal pups are found on beaches, and in the fall when the pups are weaned.

“Some of them make it, and some of them don’t,” she said.

Berta said about half the reports on dead seals involve natural causes, and the other half involve shootings and beatings, often at the hands of people out fishing.

“If people find dead marine animals, they should give us a call,” she said.

The Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network responds to reports on Whidbey and Camano islands and Skagit and north Snohomish counties. To report stranded marine mammals call 360-678-6768 or 360-678-3765.

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