Breaking! Severely Entangled Seal Covered In 77 Pounds Of Trash & Nets Is A Grim Reminder Of Why We Must Help Clean Up Marine Plastic Pollution Worldwide
In what is being called one of the worst cases of marine life entanglement in the world, a deceased male grey seal washed up at Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel, Cornwall, with netting wrapped around his whole body.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) explained on its Facebook page yesterday that they were initially alerted about the distressed seal who was “trapped within a huge mass of tangled marine litter and ghost gear” on May 11th.
Despite search efforts by BDMLR and Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT), they were unable to locate the seal until May 27th. Heartbreakingly, the distressed seal washed up on shore and passed away as a result of the injuries he had sustained from the pounds of trash and netting he was entangeled in.
“Nobody could be prepared for the gut-wrenching sight hidden beneath the pollution,” said BDMLR, who was joined by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network (CWTMSN) to detangle the seal. “As the material around his neck was gradually cut away, more and more of the injury slowly revealed an animal that had clearly endured a horrific amount of suffering.”
According to BDMLR’s North Cornwall Assistant Coordinator Michelle Robinson-Clement, the material removed from the seal weighed an estimated 77 pounds; making it impossible for him to swim or dive.
An examination the following day determined that the seal, who reportedly spent at least three weeks suffering like this, would not have even been able to lift his own head.
James Barnett, a pathologist for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Program – UK strandings stated that this was the most serious net-related injury he had witnessed in 27 years of working with seals.
“For all our amazing wildlife and coastlines in Cornwall, we actually have the second highest rate of entanglement of any of the seal species in the world, up to 4% of the animals we record in our survey in 2017 and 2018, around 100 different seals were caught in marine litter each year” said Sue Sayer, Chairwoman of Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust. “The really sad fact is that many of them, like this poor animal, are very often in places where they are totally inaccessible for rescuers to reach, and frequently move between locations across the English Channel and Celtic Sea, which makes them difficult to track.”
Horrifically, according to Niki Clear, Marine Conservation Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, this is one of the hundreds of thousands of marine mammals that are killed as a result of entanglement in marine litter every year around the world.
“However, incidents like this give us a chance to make a public call for action about the state of our oceans and what everyone can do to help reduce or prevent pollution from getting into the environment and killing more of our wildlife,” stated Clear. “Although it is an incredibly upsetting case, we needed to tell this animal’s story to make sure it didn’t suffer and die for nothing to be done about it.”
While this tragic case happened in the UK, it is a part of a much larger epidemic senselessly affecting marine animals around the world.
As per the organizations who worked to help save this seal’s life, you can help keep our oceans clean by picking up trash on the beach and organizing beach clean ups. “One piece of fishing nylon will last over 500 years and kill many creatures, so every piece removed will be saving lives.”
It is also important that litter is then disposed of properly, especially if it can be recycled; as 80% of marine litter comes from land-based sources, humans.
You can help all animals by choosing compassion on your plate. #GoVegg