Heart-breaking photo of helpless blonde seal being strangled by fishing net that cuts into its neck exposes reality of plastic pollution in Britain

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The heart wrenching moment a blonde seal was strangled by a fishing net on the Norfolk coast has been captured on camera.

IT consultant, Geoff Smith, 54, captured the photograph which illustrates the reality of plastic pollution.

The seal can be seen with a thick blue net wrapped around its neck, seemingly impossible for the seal to remove this alone.

This is the tragic scene of a blonde seal who has been caught in a plastic fishing net at Horsey Gap on the Norfolk Coast

The animal appeared to have red blotches around his neck, possibly caused by the net cutting into its flesh

Mr Smith ed seal rescue charity Friends of Horsey Seals, but the animal was able to escape into the sea, avoiding volunteers who wanted to cut him free from the net

Mr Smith ed seal rescue charity Friends of Horsey Seals to inform them of the seal – but the mammal managed to give volunteers who tried to catch him the slip, and disappeared back into the sea.

Mr Smith, from Ipswich said: ‘You could see that the seal‘s neck was cut and that the seal had grown since getting tangled in the netting.

Photographer Geoff Smith said: ‘Mr Smith, from Ipswich said: ‘You could see that the seal‘s neck was cut and that the seal had grown since getting tangled in the netting. ‘It‘s a tragedy that waste has been a blight on wildlife caused by our carelessness and laziness, both of which can be avoided by raising awareness and educating people and industry on the real consequences of their actions.‘

‘It‘s a tragedy that waste has been a blight on wildlife caused by our carelessness and laziness, both of which can be avoided by raising awareness and educating people and industry on the real consequences of their actions.‘

David Vyse, from Friends of Horsey Seals, said: ‘The injured seals tend to stay close to the sea as they are limited with movement or stay inside the colony for safety.

‘When a human comes close, it will either quickly enter the sea, or move with the colony to ‘safety‘.

‘We have spotted this seal a few times since the photo was taken in February, and it seems to be eating well.

‘We will try our very best to catch him and remove the plastic when the conditions are right, causing minimum disruption to the seal colony.

Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are to be banned in England from next year to tackle pollution and protect the environment.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed a ban on the supply of the items from April 2020 after a consultation revealed ‘overwhelming‘ public support for the move.

Exemptions will allow those who need to use plastic straws for medical reasons or a disability to buy them from registered pharmacies or request them in restaurants, pubs and bars, and the use of plastic-stemmed cotton buds for medical and scientific purposes.

Food and drink outlets will not be able to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out. 

It is estimated that 4.7 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year in England.

Around 10 per cent of cotton buds are flushed down toilets, often ending up in waterways and oceans, the Government said.

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It is hoped millions of pounds could be saved annually on clean-up efforts of used plastics.

Mr Gove said: ‘Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.

‘So today I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.‘

It is estimated there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world‘s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

The announcement follows the Government‘s ban on microbeads and the 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86 per cent.

Surfers Against Sewage chief executive Hugo Tagholm welcomed the ban.

He said: ‘Stopping the production and distribution of these single-use plastic menaces will prevent them from polluting beaches nationwide. It‘s a really positive and bold step in the right direction in the battle against plastic pollution.

‘It is also helps further drive plastic-free options and alternatives for the public so they can truly make more sustainable choices in their daily lives.‘ 

WHAT DOES DEEP-SEA DEBRIS DATABASE REVEAL ABOUT OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION?

Plastic pollution is a scourge that is ravaging the surface of our planet. Now, the polluting polymer is sinking down to the bottom of the ocean. 

The deepest part of the ocean is found in the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. It stretches down nearly 36,100 feet (11,000 metres) below the surface.

One plastic bag was found 35,754 feet (10,898 metres) below the surface in this region, the deepest known piece of human-made pollution in the world. This single-use piece of plastic was found deeper than 33 Eiffel towers, laid tip to base, would reach.

Whilst the plastic pollution is rapidly sinking, it is also spreading further into the middle of the oceans. A piece of plastic was found over 620 miles (1,000 km) from the nearest coast – that‘s further than the length of France.

The Global Oceanographic Data Center (Godac) of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) launched for public use in March 2017. 

In this database, there is the data from 5,010 different dives. From all of these different dives, 3,425 man-made debris items were counted. 

More than 33 per cent of the debris was macro-plastic followed by metal (26 per cent), rubber (1.8 per cent), fishing gear (1.7 per cent), glass (1.4 per cent), cloth/paper/lumber (1.3 per cent), and ‘other‘ anthropogenic items (35 per cent).

It was also discovered that of all the waste found, 89 per cent of it was designed for single-use purposes. This is defined as plastic bags, bottles and packages. The deeper the study looked, the greater the amount of plastic they found. 

Of all man-made items found deeper than 20,000 feet (6,000 metres), the ratios increased to 52 per cent for macro-plastic and 92 per cent for single-use plastic.

The direct damage this caused to the ecosystem and environment is clear to see as deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17 per cent of plastic debris images taken by the study.

 

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