Marine litter threatens seals

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve sadly seen a few cases of seals that have become entangled in litter that has found its way into our seas.

In North East England a member of the public called in a juvenile seal that was caught up in some kind of large sack, with the looped handle wrapped tightly around its neck. Unfortunately the seal was right on the water’s edge and couldn’t be rescued immediately as it would escape into the sea before we would be able to get anywhere near it. However, the following morning luck was on our side and the same person spotted the seal in a better place. Our volunteer Medics attended and were successfully able to capture and cut the animal free, and as it was uninjured and otherwise healthy it was let go again.

A couple of days later in Arbroath, east Scotland, another young grey seal this time with a shopping bag around its neck was reported to the BDMLR hotline and a call went out to local Medics. A member of the public actually managed to cut this animal free by themselves, which was very brave, but we would always prefer having trained volunteers handling these animals as they can be tough to restrain safely and will bite!

Sadly in Norfolk it was too late for a seal with a frisbee ring wedged tightly around its neck. The decomposing body washed up and was recorded by one of our volunteers, showing the devastating effect entanglement has on these individual. This is exactly why we are supporting a campaign to encourage people to not buy this particular design of frisbee and ask retailers to not stock them either. There is even a petition to the UK Government to ban them from sale, which you can find on this link here:

Photos: Vicki Sinclair, Jan Radford, Steve Hills.

(**warning: graphic photo below**)