Fishing line causes seal death

A four-year-old Australian fur seal died last week after being entangled in fishing line for months.

A Kennett River wildlife carer is urging locals and tourists to properly dispose of rubbish after fishing line entangled and killed a seal.

Volunteer wildlife carer Briony Grocott, who has lived at Kennett River for nine years, said people first noticed the seal in the area about December 6, but it appeared again on January 6 on rocks near Boggaley Creek.

She said that Zoos Victoria’s Marine AGL Response Unit captured the Australian fur seal last Monday with thick fishing line wrapped around its neck.

AGL Marine Response Unit co-ordinator Mark Keenan said the “clearly weakened” four-year-old seal had been entangled in the fishing line for months, which had caused deep cuts to the mammal’s neck.

“Once caught and freed from the entanglement, the decision was made to return the animal to the zoo; anaesthetised and administered fluid therapy and pain relief,” Mr Kennan said.

“She was hospitalised overnight, but she deteriorated and died while in hospital.

“A post-mortem examination confirmed that the entangling fishing line had resulted in a severe, deep injury impacting the important structures of the neck, including the neck muscles, the airway and the large blood vessels.”

Ms Grocott said that fishing line was a big problem for wildlife carers in the Otway Wildlife Group.

“Cases of entanglement make up roughly 20 per cent of case volume each year for the AGL-Marine Response Unit. The AGL-MRU expects to see as many as 80 to 100 cases of entanglement this year,” Mr Kennan said.

Ms Grocott said litter along the Great Ocean Road was “out of control”, and suggested the need for more bins and education for international tourists about properly disposing of fishing and other rubbish.

“Honest to god, the litter at the moment is out of control,” she said.

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