Seal sculpture makes a return to Whitley Bay's seafront

A life-size sculpture of a seal made from litter collected from North Tyneside’s beaches has returned.

By David Sedgwick
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 4:08 pm
Children from Marine Park First School, Whitley Bay, visit the seal.
Children from Marine Park First School, Whitley Bay, visit the seal.

After spending the winter months indoors to protect it from the elements, North Tyneside Council’s six-foot sculpture is back on Whitley Bay’s coastline.

Created by local artists Beth Huttly and Alex Welch last year, the sculpture is made from plastic bottles, straws, empty food cartons, face coverings, plastic bags and other items.

In an effort to raise awareness of the issue and help people visualise the impact their actions have on marine life and the environment, the seal sculpture was installed last spring by the council and toured the borough’s coastline until late autumn.

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Cllr Sandra Graham, cabinet member for Environment, said: “The sculpture was a great talking point last year, with many people stopping to chat about its significance, and I am delighted it is back.

“Single-use plastics create avoidable waste and the detrimental impact and damage to the environment and wildlife is huge.

"All-year round, the council, as well as community-spirited residents and local businesses, clear thousands of tonnes of rubbish, including single-use plastics, left on North Tyneside’s beaches.

“However, only last month, a real seal pup was found distressed with plastic wrapped tightly around its neck in Whitley Bay. Thankfully, it was freed, but this is the stark and upsetting reality of plastic pollution in our seas. It must stop.

“I would urge everyone to not only take their litter home, but to please stop or reduce the number of single-use plastics they buy – like plastic water bottles and shopping bags, throwaway cutlery, polystyrene cups, etc.”

The seal will once again tour the North Tyneside coastline, moving to one of six locations every two weeks, starting outside the Spanish City Dome, to raise as much awareness as possible.

The sculpture supplements the council’s other work to tackle litter, including additional large bins along the coast, extra collections, beach wardens, regular litter picks, fixed penalty notices for those found littering and information posters.

It also forms part of the council’s focus to reduce single-use plastics in the borough, which has seen almost 20 public water fountains installed by the local authority, and its ambitions to work towards being carbon net zero by 2030.