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Seal pup rescued after swallowing plastic bag

Photo: ITV West Country

A seal pup is recovering at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary after he swallowed a plastic bag.

Named Brian May, after the Queen guitarist, the pup was rescued off the coast when he was just five weeks old. He was found wounded and severely malnourished.

When trying to feed him, staff at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary realised he had already ingested two pieces of plastic with a diameter of 8cm. They say Brian May could have died.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust says plastic pollution is affecting more sea life now than ever and more action needs to be done to protect the sea.

The Trust, working with the University of Exeter, says the main problem is caused by wildlife ingesting micro-plastics.

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80%
of micro-plastics are from land-based sources, like bottles & bags, say World Animal Protection.

We do have records of seals and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) ingesting plastic all around our coast, including a porpoise a couple of years ago having a bottle ring in its stomach.

It's incredibly distressing. We get photographs of animals being impacted, either entangled or ingesting these plastics, all around our coast and getting these photographs in and seeing them first hand really highlights the issue.

We're finding it's coming through from their food, so plankton and larger fish are eating it as feed, and so when the seals and the dolphins eat the fish it's getting into their systems as well.''

– Niki Clear, Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Expert