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Ghost Gear Nearly Strangled a Young Harbor Seal

Abandoned fishing gear, called ghost gear, nearly killed a young harbor seal until rescuers got to it.


There are lots of creatures you wouldn't want to get tangled up with in the ocean: the Portuguese man-o-war, fire corals, heck even cute little otters can be surprisingly aggressive if provoked.

But for ocean animals, one of the spookiest things floating in the water isn't even alive: it's called ghost fishing gear. Long after fishing equipment like nets or pots have been abandoned and forgotten by people, this "ghost gear" continues to haunt the ocean, entangling, smothering and killing marine life.

Two weeks ago, one harbor seal pup had a terrifying experience with an abandoned fishing line that he's only just starting to recover from.

Elizabeth Hogan on Twitter

He was found and rescued by the group Marine Mammals of Maine, who were able to untangle the line. The line had cut through the animal's fur down to the muscle and the wound had become infected.

Thankfully, the team was able to get the seal stabilized and on the road to recovery. He still has to go through rehab before he'll be well enough to return to the wild, but he's feeling well enough to be giving his caretakers sass about riding in a kennel.

As bad as he had it, this seal was fortunate to be found and rescued. But surviving in the ocean shouldn't depend on the luck of avoiding or being rescued from man-made death traps like ghost fishing gear.

Learn how you can help vulnerable marine animals by signing up with Oceana.

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Illustration by Fabio Manucci

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