Animal lovers are warning about the devastating impact that litter can have on marine life, after a seal was found entangled in plastic and later died.
The young creature was discovered on Friday on the rocks just off the causeway on St Mary’s Island Local Nature Reserve, at Whitley Bay.
The seal was in distress, with polyester strapping – the sort used for packaging – around its stomach.
It is believed that it swam into the loop when smaller and was unable to get free. The strapping would then have cut deeply into its flesh as it grew.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) sent a member of its team, Richard Ilderton, to help, but the seal’s injuries were too severe and it died. It has prompted the BDMLR to urge people to manage their rubbish.
Jane Hardy, from Alnwick, is a volunteer marine mammal medic for the BDMLR. She said: “I am also a member of Alnwick Sea Swim and I exercise my dog on local beaches and it’s amazing the amount of litter that I see washed up daily, mainly plastic carrier bags, tin cans, fishing wire and balloons, which do so much damage to wildlife.
“One time, I found a puffin tangled in fishing wire and it died on my way to the vets.
“It’s such a shame that not everyone necessarily thinks of the consequences when they dispose of litter and it’s a tragedy every time our wildlife pays the price.”
Mr Ilderton, BDMLR North East area rescue coordinator, said he was angry after seeing another otherwise ‘healthy animal’s life cut short by individuals who are unable to manage their rubbish.’
He added: “I found the seal lying on its stomach with a band of exposed flesh caused by a thick strip of embedded plastic.”
He says that previous cases in Northumberland include rescuing an entangled seal at Low Newton, while a sei whale stranded at Druridge Bay was found to have plastic guttering and a small jockey wheel in its stomach.