The discovery of six headless baby seals in New Zealand is being described by wildlife experts as a “disturbing, brutal and violent” crime.
The bodies of the 11-month-old fur pups were found Monday floating in the tidal wash at Scenery Nook, a popular bay near Christchurch. Their heads were nowhere to be found.
Officials said they believe the animals were killed elsewhere and then dropped into the bay from a boat.
“Due to the disturbing, brutal and violent nature of this crime against defenseless seal pups, it has been reported to the police,” Andy Thompson, a local manager of New Zealand's Department of Conversation, said in a statement.
He said the fur seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and it is a crime to harass, disturb or harm them.
Three of the seals have been buried while the other three were sent to Massey University for autopsies.
“While the [autopsy] will determine the exact cause of death, we believe it’s incredibly unlucky sharks would have bitten the heads off six seals but left the bodies untouched,” Thompson said.
He said the killers may have believed that the seals were eating large amounts of fish that could have been caught and sold for human consumptions.
“That isn’t the case,” Thompson said. “Research shows 90 percent of Banks Peninsula fur seal diets is made up of lantern fish which are not sought after in fishing.”
Authorities have appealed for further information about the seal deaths.