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'It's like a slow garotting' - campaign to rid shores of frisbee menace that is killing our seals

PUBLISHED: 15:22 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:36 25 July 2019

Some of the seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

Some of the seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

Friends of Horsey Seals

Cheap and fun to play with - but seals are dying in agony because of plastic flying rings.

Chairman of the Friends of Horsey Seals with a cuddly seal at the launch of a campaign raising awareness of seals and plastic flying rings Picture: Liz CoatesChairman of the Friends of Horsey Seals with a cuddly seal at the launch of a campaign raising awareness of seals and plastic flying rings Picture: Liz Coates

That was the stark message being delivered to visitors to one of Norfolk's most popular beaches this week as they were urged to take care over hollow frisbees seals could slip into.

Thousands of leaflets are being handed to shops and seaside cafes from Great Yarmouth to Hunstanton in a bid to rid the coast of the plastic toys, popular with dog walkers, that are inflicting shocking wounds.

And as families frolicked on the sands and seals bobbed about in the water at Winterton the campaign was officially launched to prevent the needless suffering of seals, which are such a draw for trippers.

It comes as wildlife watchers identified yet another animal "necklaced" by a white plastic plaything digging deep into its flesh, the equivalent of "a slow garotting."

Animal lovers at Winterton mark the launch of a campaign raising awareness of how dangerous plastic flyiing rings are to seals. Other areas like Cornwall are already taking note as they look to deal with the same problem there Picture: Liz CoatesAnimal lovers at Winterton mark the launch of a campaign raising awareness of how dangerous plastic flyiing rings are to seals. Other areas like Cornwall are already taking note as they look to deal with the same problem there Picture: Liz Coates

Peter Ansell, chairman of Friends of Horsey seals, said flying rings needed to be kept away from the shore.

And while they were fine for the garden or the park they posed such a cruel hazard to seals that anyone using them needed to stay away from the waves.

Albert Ward, group secretary, said: "The interest so far has all been about the injuries - the result of the problem rather than the cause.

"Today's campaign launch is to do with making people aware of what happens if people are not very careful with the discs and they happen to go straight in the sea.

New hi-vis vests are helping to spread the message about flying rings and seals Picture: Liz CoatesNew hi-vis vests are helping to spread the message about flying rings and seals Picture: Liz Coates

"The results could be that animals are harmed. The cuts are absolutely horrendous.

"As a toy they are cheap and simple and they encourage people to be out in the open air and running after them.

"They are great. But if they go in the sea they need to be found before they get lost.

"We are not trying to dampen anyone's fun but if they do not realise what is going on they have no reason to take care."

Flying plastic rings make colourful bunting at a campaign launch but are lethal to seals if they find their way into the sea. A campaign is urging people to use them well away from the water's edge Picture: Liz CoatesFlying plastic rings make colourful bunting at a campaign launch but are lethal to seals if they find their way into the sea. A campaign is urging people to use them well away from the water's edge Picture: Liz Coates

An information stand at the event featured a gruesome gallery of seals, caught and cared for by the RSPCA at East Winch.

Three have been rescued so far and three more are said be suffering and evading capture.

Fishing net is also a big problem - with more and more casualties reported every day.

Seals found with a ring embedded in their neck face a slow death through infection and starvation.

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

So far most of the victims have been in Horsey/Winterton where there is a large colony.

At this time of year most of the females will be pregnant ready to give birth in November.

Last breeding season some 2063 seals were born, including around 250 at Winterton.

Earlier this year, the RSPCA revealed harmful incidents involving plastic waste had substantially increased since 2015.

Animal lovers are waiting to pounce on this seal found with a plastic ring embedded in its neck. It follows Mrs Frisbee, Pinkafo, and Sir David - high-profile casualties who have been nursed back to health by the RSPCA Picture: Friends of Horsey SealsAnimal lovers are waiting to pounce on this seal found with a plastic ring embedded in its neck. It follows Mrs Frisbee, Pinkafo, and Sir David - high-profile casualties who have been nursed back to health by the RSPCA Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

In Norfolk, the figure had risen from 11 cases to a staggering 34 last year, accounting for more than half of all litter incidents where animals were harmed.

Sir David the seal was found at Horsey with a plastic frisbee embedded in his neck Picture: RSPCASir David the seal was found at Horsey with a plastic frisbee embedded in his neck Picture: RSPCA

The seal found at Caister with the netting around his neck.The seal found at Caister with the netting around his neck.

Three seals are still evading capture with rings round their necks which will cut into their flesh Picture: Chris BainbridgeThree seals are still evading capture with rings round their necks which will cut into their flesh Picture: Chris Bainbridge

Pictured is one of  three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which  have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey SealsPictured is one of three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

Pictured is one of  three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which  have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey SealsPictured is one of three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

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