Entangled seal freed Tue 11 September 2012 DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES, PARKS, WATER AND ENVIRONMENT A team of marine wildlife specialists have freed a seal entangled in fishing gear on Sloping Island near Hobart. Biologists and Wildlife Rangers from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment (DPIPWE) captured the Australian fur seal and removed the entanglement that was embedded deep in its neck and shoulders. DPIPWE wildlife biologist Rachael Alderman said the seal's predicament was first recorded over two months ago by local fishermen and marine conservation program staff had been searching for this animal since then. A sighting of the entangled seal was reported to the Department's Marine Mammal Hotline last Friday which resulted in staff being able to capture and sedate the seal before removing the entanglement. "Without intervention this animal faced certain death from infection or starvation so it was fortuitous that it was sighted again. The successful removal of the entanglement from this seal really highlights the value of people reporting these incidents" Dr Alderman said. The entanglement was part of a tuna fishing rig and included a loop of nylon trace and a large plastic lure. It had worked its way below the skin and was deeply embedded in the flesh causing a large open wound. "This was a particularly bad entanglement and severely restricted the movement of this animal. While the seal had been able to continue to feed, as the fishing line was embedded in the shoulders, movement was probably extremely painful" she said. Fur seals are incredibly resilient animals and this seal is expected to make a full recovery. She said discarded gear and other marine pollution can pose a serious threat to all marine wildlife and fishers are reminded to take care to ensure that no fishing gear is lost or discarded into the ocean. Members of the public finding severely injured or entangled seals are encouraged to call the Marine Mammal Hotline on 0427 WHALES (0427 942 537). Pictures are available upon request.