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  1. ITV Report

50th 'necklace seal' being cared for by RSPCA in Norfolk

The number of seals injured by discarded plastic waste and netting in the sea off the Norfolk coast has reached a record number.

Fifty seals have now been cared for at the RSPCA's East Winch Wildlife Centre near King's Lynn with injuries caused by man-made rubbish in the sea.

Scylla is the latest, the adult seal was found on Horsey beach with a severe wound to his neck. He was also underweight, weighing just a quarter of what he should be.

Scylla's neck wound. Credit: ITV News Anglia

“It’s hard to describe how much pain and distress something like this can cause a seal - they are weighed down by this huge mass of discarded netting, which must make it hard for them to swim, and then the net starts to cut and embed into their neck too. The injuries are horrendous, sometimes inches deep, and all the while the seal is becoming weaker and weaker and cannot feed so their suffering continues and they slowly starve to death. It is just horrific.

Sadly we know that the seals that come to us are the lucky ones and I fear there are many, many more out their in our waters suffering the same fate, but they are never seen.

“This is also just one species of wildlife, at our centre we see so many animals coming into us with injuries caused as a result of discarded rubbish and litter.”

– Alison Charles, Manager, East Winch Wildlife Centre
Seal with netting stuck around its neck Credit: Glenn Mingham

The animal charity's been collecting data since 2008 when there were just two seals treated for similar injuries.

So far this year there have been eight seals treated for neck injuries.

Some of the netting and plastic flying rings which have caused the problems. Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA says the ‘necklace’ injuries are usually as a result of fishing netting and lines, but so far this year three of the seals taken to the centre have had injuries caused by frisbee-type rings embedded in their neck.