Cute selfie culture is bad for conservation of seals

Capturing everything on the camera has become almost a way of life in the modern world. If you can do it you’ve got to photograph it and it doesn’t matter whether you are taking a selfie of yourself and of tiger in the background or a tiger cub which you are allowed to handle at a price. It’s not good to use tiger cubs as a commercial asset to extract money from paying customers who want a nice photograph of themselves with the cub. It is the exploitation of animals.

Seals on the Yorkshire coast
Seals on the Yorkshire coast. Photo in public domain.

And today, in The Times, there is a story about cute selfies with seal pups which can, at the end of the day, kill the pups. This is how it happens.

Seal pups stay with their mothers for three weeks during which she feeds them up to make them as fat as possible so that they can survive when she kicks them out. The mother does not do any real training. They have to fend for themselves and if they start off on that dangerous journey of independence without sufficient fat they can starve to death while they learn how to catch prey.

And if during this phase when they have to build up a healthy layer of fat, they are interrupted by a fat tourist with a smart phone who wants a photograph of themselves with the pup’s mother while she’s feeding her offspring the disturbance interrupts the process of fat buildup. They need to be left alone to get themselves ready for independence.

It isn’t just people looking for selfies, apparently drones are the new pest for seals. The Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust has urged drone operators to keep their distance. The founder of this organisation said that she had seen 11 sleeping seals dart into the water after being spooked by a drone. The operator is probably taking more photographs. His viewpoint photos with drones are very trendy at present.

Matt Barnes of the Yorkshire Seal Group said that because seals look cuddly people often look out for them for selfie photographs over the festive period. And then there are dogs off leads. I have seen a photograph of a dog attacking a seal. The seal was rescued but euthanised because they were too badly injured.

Sometimes, the simple fact of a person getting too close to a seal can disturb them. And some people apparently try to put seals in the water.

Walkers are being urged to stop seeking out seal pups for selfie photographs over this holiday period as it puts them at further risk. This is a particularly bad time to do that because hundreds were killed or injured during recent storms. The Arwen and Barra storms came during puppy season and many mothers and pups were separated.

Therefore, the remaining survivors are particularly precious. The mortality rate for seals is high anyway and this is being exacerbated by people encroaching on their habitat and interfering with their lives.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful Note: I will donate 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment made over the next three months on pages where comments can be made.
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Post Category: Conservation