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More Norfolk seals than ever struggling with dangers of plastic pollution

PUBLISHED: 11:07 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:49 30 October 2018

An injured seal at Horsey  Picture: friends of Horsey Seals

An injured seal at Horsey Picture: friends of Horsey Seals

Archant

More seals than ever are being slowly and cruelly killed by plastic pollution along the Norfolk coast.

An injured seal at Horsey  Picture: friends of Horsey SealsAn injured seal at Horsey Picture: friends of Horsey Seals

The RSPCA says the colony at Horsey is badly affected with some six seals currently suffering and being monitored by a volunteer patrol group.

Alison Charles, manager of the charity’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, said despairing officers were powerless while the breeding season was in full swing and would have to wait until the affected seals became weak enough to catch.

For those affected it was an “horrendous” way to die, plastic rings and nylon fishing detritus cutting into their necks and becoming infected.

Eventually most starved to death.

Frisbee the seal a week after rescue. Picture: RSPCAFrisbee the seal a week after rescue. Picture: RSPCA

The first case, she added was identified in 2008.

This year there have already been six cases so far.

The most high profile was Frisbee, an adult female whose shocking injuries at the hands of plastic ring, appalled the public.

Ms Charles said the charity was receiving multiple calls about the same animals and stressed that wardens with the Friends of Horsey Seals were aware and keeping a watchful eye.

The frisbee that injured Frisbee the seal. Picture: RSPCAThe frisbee that injured Frisbee the seal. Picture: RSPCA

Speaking about the worrying rise in incidents, Ms Charles added: “We think it is a reflection of what is going on out there.

“We have had six this year and that is the most we have had in any year. There are six out there now.

“In one case a seal had a bikini cutting into its neck. It is almost comical but just so sad.

“People keep reporting the same seals over and over again, most of them are at Horsey.”

She added there were probably more animals entangled in plastic rubbish that they had no idea about.

She was also keen to post a ‘no selfie’ warning after reports last year of parents sitting their children on seals for a picture.

“Can people please remember they are wild animals?

“Stay well away because they have a nasty bite which I know all about.

“No selfies with them please. They look placid while they are lying on the beach but they can turn quickly.

“They are our biggest wild animals. Please just look from a distance.”

‘Do not report’

Wildlife watchers are being inundated with reports about seals in trouble.

The chairman of Friends of Horsey Seals Peter Ansell said signs would be going up asking people not to make contact with organisations, particularly the RSPCA.

He said: “We have about half a dozen down there now that we cannot catch.

“We are about to put a sign up asking people not to report it because we are aware.

“I understand people’s concern but on the other hand the RSPCA are so busy.

“Every year there are a few more affected animals. It’s not just plastic it’s fishing rubbish too.”

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