Scientists investigating the killing of at least 33 seals whose mutilated bodies have washed ashore in Norfolk and the surrounding coastline say they believe the deaths were caused by a vessel with a ducted propeller that has caused "corkscrew-style" mutilations on the seals' bodies, BusinessGreen.com reported Tuesday.
A scientist at St. Andrews University Seal Mammal Research Unit says vessels operating between the Sheringham Shoal wind farm and Wells Harbor in North Norfolk might be the cause.
"Wind farms per se are not to blame," Callan Duck said. "It's possible that some of the vessels involved in wind farm construction might be responsible, but we do not know that for sure."
Engineering firm Scira, Sheringham Shoal's main contractor, denied the allegations.
"Both Scira and the police have checked all equipment on vessels operating at the site and found no connection," the company said in a statement.
Wells Harbor authorities issued a statement arguing the boats accused of causing the injuries could not have been responsible.
"These seals began to be found in December 2009 but the fast supply boats using Wells to service the wind farm did not start operating from Wells until April 2010," the company said.
Harbor officials said they had been operating boats with ducted propellers "for many years with no such problems reported."