Prey that kill: Dover soles (Solea solea) causing fatal asphyxiation in seals in the southern North Sea

Authors: Jan Haelters, Thierry Jauniaux, Marja J.L. Kik & Francis Kerckhof

Abstract: Along with the increase of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in the southern North Sea, the number of stranded dead and dying seals has risen sharply in recent decades. A selection of animals stranded in Belgium and the Netherlands is examined, with as one of the main objectives to collect information about the cause of death. One of the causes of death is suffocation from fish that enter the trachea, or from fish that are too large to be swallowed completely. In this contribution, eleven of such cases are discussed. It appears that Dover sole (Solea solea) is especially dangerous for seals.