The mystery surrounding a ‘limb’ found washed up on a Co Clare beach last week appears to have been solved.
Originally thought to be part of a large ape or gorilla, experts have almost all agreed that the bones are more likely to be from a grey seal or possibly a walrus.
The discovery was made at Farrihy beach near Kilkee in West Clare last week. The bones, comprising what at first glance look to be a femur, knuckles and finger bones, still have some flesh on them and measure about 3 feet in length.
A member of the public first contacted gardaí to report they found what they believed to be a human arm. A forensic examination later determined that bones were not human and were handed over the the county dog warden for Co Clare for disposal.
However, Mr Frankie Coote became very curious and decided to hold onto the bones. He made an appeal on his weekly radio slot on Clare FM for anyone that might be able to assist with his investigation to make contact with him.
In the meantime, researchers at Clare FM spoke with a number of people including the zoology department at a major university where experts said they believed the bones to be from an ape.
Others have said however they believe the bones are most likely from a grey seal and probably the rear flipper of an adult male seal.
County dog warden Frankie Coote told The Clare Herald: “It was washed up on Farrihy beach last week and it was the guards who contacted me. When they established that it wasn’t human, they called me and asked me to dispose of it.”
“I became very curious and wanted to find out for myself what it could be. When I was on the radio (Clare FM) on Tuesday I just put it out there to see if anyone knew what it was. When you look at it, it does look like two arm bones, knuckles and fingers. I have had a few people give me their opinions and they are mostly saying it’s either part of a grey seal or maybe even a walrus,” Mr Coote said.
Mr Coote has been keeping the bones in a freezer at the local animal shelter. Two local vets also expressed an interest in the bones but were unable to give a definitive answer for what it is.
Speaking on Clare FM (listen here), Melanie Croce, Operations Manager with Seal Rescue Ireland said: “Based on the photo and the location where it was found I believe it could be the rear flipper of a grey seal. Given the shape and size, it would most likely be from an adult male.”
Clare based Dr Simon Berrow, Chief Science Officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and lecturer in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology said: “I have seen some strange things washed up but this certainly is up there with the strangest. Based on the size of the femur and the long digits it is most likely the hind leg and flipper of a seal.”