A decapitated seal pup found on Morriscastle Strand is a suspected victim of a human attack, making it the second such case in Wexford in recent weeks.

The seal was discovered on the beach last week morning with a circular wound in its abdomen. According to CBS teacher Joe Ryan, who holds a degree in zoology, the shape of the wound indicates that it was attacked by a human.

“My first thought is that the seal may well have been shot with a rifle in the abdomen,” he explained. “The shape of the wound on the surface is the giveaway that it was hit by something that was a regular shape such as a rifle bullet and not a shotgun cartridge. At the very least, this would have disabled the seal in the water.”

According to Ryan, the attack was likely to have taken place within 24 hours prior to discovery. Along with the gunshot wound, the pup had also been decapitated.

“Clearly the head has been cut off but it seems that the base of the vertebrae at the bottom of the neck was too thick to cut through with a knife so it wasn't a clean cut,” he said. “The person then moved up the spine. It is clear that the removal of the head was botched, if I can call it that.

“I hope the seal died from the gunshot as otherwise, it would have had an agonizing death being hacked apart over a number of minutes.”

The horrific incident is the second suspected attack on a seal pup in Wexford in recent weeks. In October, Ryan came across a pup in a similar state while walking on the beach at Rosslare Strand.