Slaughter Of Seal Cubs
"Please help me...sniff sniff...sob"
An animal welfare group is protesting at the "needless slaughter" of thousands of seals as the hunting season starts in Canada.
Canada's annual seal cull begins this week with the maximum number allowed to be killed set at 270,000.
IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says the hunt is cruel and unnecessary and will cause the population to decline.
Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW, said: "This is an unacceptably cruel and unnecessary hunt.
"In past years, we have witnessed unimaginable levels of animal cruelty while observing it, and I expect this year will be no exception."
The commercial hunt targets seal pups, with majority of seals killed being less than three months old.
Fishermen are allowed to kill pups as soon as they begin to molt their white coats, often as young as 12-days-old.
The hunt has been delayed because the southern part of the Gulf of St Lawrence has been hit by the break-up of ice and small scattered groups of seals.
Ms Fink added: "With the considerable lack of ice in the Gulf of St Lawrence this year, it is likely that we will see lots of seals shot by fishermen in open water.
"Tragically those that are not killed outright often slip away in the water and experience a slow, lingering death."
IFAW is urging governments and the European Parliament to close down markets for seal products.
In January, Belgium became the first EU nation to pass a national ban followed by Germany's announcement to institute its own ban.