Frequently Asked Questions
Are the seals attracting sharks?
Though there was a much publicized shark attack off Truro on July 30, 2012, shark experts continue to believe the shark attack risk to humans is very small. Nonetheless, seals are known to be a staple of white sharks’ diet, and there is no doubt that seals attract predatory sharks. With recent estimates of upwards of 350,000 seals off our North Atlantic coast (CBS Morning News, August 1, 2012), the prevalence of predatory sharks in or near areas of seal concentrations, particularly where deep water is nearby, may increase.
While the SAC has deliberately refrained from citing the presence of great white sharks as a reason to be concerned about the ever-expanding gray seal population because we do not want to appear alarmist, the SAC does believe that the seal/shark dynamic is a troubling one and stands as another reason that the burgeoning gray seal population needs to be much better understood so that the ramifications to our traditional way of life at the water’s edge can be assessed and protected.
Are the seals infected with Bird Flu and will it spread to people?
There has been extensive media coverage of the infection of seals with bird or avian flu virus (see Yahoo! HealthDay News, July 31, 2012 “New Seal Flu Could Pose Threat to Humans”). The scientists who have revealed their findings have documented the virus in harbor seals. Harbor seals, present in the waters of the Cape and Islands, are smaller relatives of the gray seals. There is well-documented evidence from Great Britain that other viruses have spread from harbor seals to gray seals. Further, scientists and the medical profession are warning that the avian flue could possibly jump from seals to humans. While not yet a reality, the prospect of a pandemic spread from seals is most troubling. Should the gray seals become infected with a virus, their huge and growing numbers would compound the concern.
Why did you engage in a lobbyist and what will he do for you?
We have engaged a lobbyist because among the multiple solutions that the SAC will look at is how best to leverage the federal legislative and administrative processes. Our lobbyist will provide an analysis of how government administers the MMPA and possible channels to get a hearing on our position. We are seeking a way to present our beliefs to the persons of responsibility and our lobbyist will facilitate those contacts. We will work with our consultant to develop a strategy that includes not only a legislative dimension, but addresses our messaging and significant outreach initiatives. We will count on his help to move us forward in realizing our principal goal of gaining relief from the MMPA.
Note: The SAC believes that the information contained herein is correct based upon published reports, visual observations and expert material. The SAC believes that far more scientific data is needed and part of its mission is to encourage and facilitate such research and to share the results with the public.