photo by saris0000 (Flickr Creative Commons)

Dozens of dead seals marked by strange corkscrew wounds have washed up on beaches in Norfolk, England and Fife, Scotland this year.

The cause of the mysterious injuries is as of yet unknown, but they look as if they were caused by some kind of mechanical blades rather than attacks by larger bull seals.

From a report in the Telegraph:

A bizarre spiral of wounds on all the seals suggests that all the victims have passed through some form of sluice where they have been caught by a bladed instrument.

In Norfolk, the seal deaths are being investigated by the police, the National Trust, the R.S.P.C.A., the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and the National Wildlife Crime unit. Dr Dave Thompson, a seal biologist at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews University, is heading the investigation in Scotland.

From an article in the Herald Scotland:

This year a total of 18 common and grey seals have been found with these injuries in St Andrews Bay and in the Firth of Forth. In Norfolk, 20 cases have been reported over the past year, with six during July. A handful of seal deaths go back to 2008.

Conservationists in Scotland are especially concerned due to the decline in harbor seal populations in some parts of the country. Similar seal deaths have also been observed in Canada.