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Heartbreak as seals continue to endure slow and painful deaths from rubbish

PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:55 17 March 2019

Pinkafo was on the verge of death when she was rescued by the Friends of Horsey Seals last year. Picture Contributed by the RSPCA/M Perrin

Pinkafo was on the verge of death when she was rescued by the Friends of Horsey Seals last year. Picture Contributed by the RSPCA/M Perrin

Archant

Experts have braced themselves for the worst year ahead, as seals continue to endure slow and painful deaths from rubbish on the Norfolk coast.

This seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck is still in the water. Photo: Glenn MinghamThis seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck is still in the water. Photo: Glenn Mingham

Last year a seal, who was later named Pinkafo, was photographed with a pink disc digging deeply into her neck.

It became embedded in her flesh, causing injury and infection to the point she could not feed or breathe. She was desperately thin as she made her way to the shore of Horsey Beach to die.

At the time she was being watched by volunteers from Friends of Horsey Seals (FOHS) and the Marine and Wildlife Rescue, who had been waiting patiently for the moment she was weak enough to take her to RSPCA East Winch in King’s Lynn.

Alison Charles, manager of the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, said: “We couldn’t get through the plastic with a scissor so we had to use secateurs.”

The frisbee removed from the seal's neck. Photo: RSPCAThe frisbee removed from the seal's neck. Photo: RSPCA

Pinkafo remains at the RSPCA centre, enduring regular doses medication and under observation but she still has a long recovery ahead.

However, her case is not isolated according to Dan Goldsmith, from the Marine and Wildlife Rescue.

“Barely a day goes past when we don’t have a call about a seal. Last month we had another one with a woman’s top on - there have been several with clothing on, it always seems to be women’s clothing too,” Mr Goldsmith added, “We don’t always find them, not every seal can be saved.”

This week alone, animal rescuers were called to rescue two seals entangled in netting, one was able to be set free but the other, named Stitch was transported to the seal rescue centre at Hunstanton’s Sea Life sanctuary.

Centre Manager Alison Charles is bring Pinkafo and another seal, Suffolk Punch back to life. Picture Matthew Usher.Centre Manager Alison Charles is bring Pinkafo and another seal, Suffolk Punch back to life. Picture Matthew Usher.

In 2008, the RSPCA East Winch only saw two cases, but 10 years later, four RSPCA wildlife centres combined admitted a total of 314 seals. RSPCA East Winch took in almost 80pc of that total.

Ms Charles said: “We really don’t know how many are out there. But this is just growing and growing and it is awful.

“I have kept bits of plastic I have picked out of now dead seals, I look at these things and it makes me want to do more to save them.”

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