'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
Friends of Horsey Seals
Cheap and fun to play with - but seals are dying in agony because of plastic flying rings.
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."
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.