The Seal Ripper.

Hi,

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Were you lucky enough to catch the fabulous ‘Nature Shock’ programme on Channel 5 last night.

I was totally engrossed by it.

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It was a fascinating story of the 20 year long search to find the cause of the gruesome seal deaths that have been accelerating over those years, starting with hundreds in the beginning and now reaching into the thousands with each passing winter.

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The wounds on the seals are not shark bites in the familiar crescent shape, they are totally new thing, with clean knife sharp wounds that continue around the body in a continuous corkscrew shape, totally peeling away the flash away from the living seal.

To do this, the predator would need to be of a massive size.

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Many people have been trying to work out which predator is this ‘corkscrew killer,’ but with no results.

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Finally Zoe Lucas, working for 20 years on Sable Island, which is off the coast of Nova Scotia, begins to solve the problem of the mysterious killer who is destroying the seals in such a bizarre way.

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The final solution is totally fascinating!

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When every possible predator was thoroughly considered, Zoe Lucas was left with only one candidate who could be the solution to the mystery.

This one was the Greenland shark, also known as the Sleeper shark, which is a little known species

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Although this creature is huge, at over twenty feet in length, it is known to be a slow moving deep-water dweller.

It is also almost blind because of a parasite which attaches itself to their eyes.

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It does however have a highly developed sense of smell and because of this it is able to creep up on a much faster prey in murky water, without actually needing to see it until the last moment.

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The Greenland shark also has unusual teeth because it is a member of the Dogfish family.

So  instead of sharp cutting teeth, it has small pointed upper teeth and interlocked lower teeth, which are formed to hold onto prey rather than to bite large chunks of flesh out of it.

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They therefore hold tightly onto the seal and then shake their heads to tear and rip off the flesh.

As the collagen fibres of the seal wind around the body diagonally, it then tears off along the path of the least resistance, which would most probably be in a diagonal pattern too – having a corkscrew effect.

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Many experts still say that the injuries are most probably caused by ducted ship’s propellers but Zoe Lucas, who has studies thousands of seals in order to form her conclusions, is still sure that the Greenland Shark is the real ‘seal ripper’.
She also states that the injuries can be duplicated.

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For a time the programme is still viewable.

Unfortunately, although you can see this programme today using this link, you will need to put up with some adverts but you will find it well worth it.

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J.

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1. Video,,, stills of Greenland Shark.
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2. Video of Greenland Shark.

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