Seal could have died after discarded frisbee stuck in neck

A grey seal was saved in the nick of time by the RSPCA and Scarborough Sea Life, after he was found at Ravenscar with a frisbee-style dog toy embedded in his neck blubber.

The grey seal pup was spotted on Sunday 20 August at Ravenscar beach, Scarborough. 

When the RSPCA received a report that a seal pup had been spotted with something caught around its neck, an officer from the animal charity sped to the scene.

The RSPCA says this incident highlights the continuing dangers of coastal litter to marine wildlife.

 The toy had wounded the seal pup and caused an infection. Photo: RSPCA

The toy had wounded the seal pup and caused an infection. Photo: RSPCA

They discovered the seal with infected wounds where the toy had become stuck around its neck.

RSPCA Animal Collection Officer Leanne Honess-Heather said:  “We had been told that it was a small seal pup with green plastic caught round its neck, so just two of us attended the scene initially.    

“But when I arrived at Ravenscar beach with seal expert Todd German from Scarborough’s Sea Life centre, we could see the grey seal was a young adult and was behaving aggressively.  He had a frisbee dog toy stuck tight round his neck which had cut into his flesh and caused an infection. It was clear we would need more pairs of hands to safely rescue the stricken creature, so additional reinforcements from Sea Life - Jordan Woodhead  and Leo - arrived with a special stretcher.

“The guys were able to secure the large injured seal in the stretcher and then carefully cut the frisbee off the poor animal.  The plastic ring had given the seal a nasty neck wound, which was cleaned then treated.  We judged that the injury would now heal by itself, so we released the seal, which made a quick dash for the sea.

“I would like to thank the Sea Life guys who assisted me in their own time and did an amazing job.”

 The frisbee after it had been cut off. Photo: RSPCA

The frisbee after it had been cut off. Photo: RSPCA

The RSPCA is called to deal with many marine animals injured by litter around Britain’s coasts.  To help reduce the problem, the animal charity held a marine clean up weekend in the Scarborough area in July 2017.  

Staff were shocked by how much dangerous debris they collected in just two days from such a short stretch of Scarborough’s coastline.  Their haul included plastic bags, bottles, broken fishing nets and rope, as well as large amounts of discarded netting which the RSPCA commonly finds seals trapped in.  This eventually cuts into the seal’s blubber and can cause significant injury and fatal infections.

The clean-up team also picked up a lot of discarded fishing line.  Seabirds often become entangled in this then die either from being unable to feed properly or by using it as nesting material which they and their offspring then become entangled in.

 

 The large injured seal was secured in a stretcher for the operation. photo: rspca

The large injured seal was secured in a stretcher for the operation. photo: rspca

RSPCA officer Leanne Honess-Heather added:  “We frequently see wildlife with the most appalling injuries caused by carelessly discarded litter.  By removing this marine debris as well as encouraging others to dispose of their litter appropriately, we hope we can make a really positive impact on the welfare of wildlife around our shores.”  

If you see an animal you have concerns about please call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit:www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).