Health of seals at risk in Wadden Sea
A higher number of seals are being brought in for treatment than a year ago.
Pieterburen—In the past six months, 135 seals have been delivered to the seal crèche in Pieterburen. That, says animal protectionist and founder of the crèche, Lenie 't Hart, is almost three times as many as were brought to the shelter one year ago. She says the health of the seals is worse than normal, with many of them suffering from lung worms, parasites that can cause suffocation. At least 20 percent of the seals brought to the shelter do not survive.
Lenie 't Hart also says that over-fishing in the Waddenzee—the waters between the Dutch and German coastline and the string of islands separating it from the North Sea—has severely depleted the seals' food supply.
The immune systems of seals in the Wadden Sea have been comprised in past years due to high levels of the pollutants PCB and DDT in the water. In 2002 Phocine distemper virus, an illness that the seals’ weakened immune systems was unable to fight, was responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 seals in the North Sea, accounting for 51% percent of the total population.