Loose the loop

The horrific and shocking injuries from looped items have been an issue recorded by the Seal Research Trust since 2000. Given the unique data set we hold, we are able to provide useful background evidence to help drive and support solutions to the ever worsening issue of marine plastics. This time, we collaborated with Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project that will finally see fishing net recycled at a factory in the Cotswolds. Click here to watch our most recent coverage of the substantial combined efforts of hundreds of our volunteers featured on the BBC National news online. The story also appeared on BBC News at One and BBC Spotlight (our local southwest news).

You will be pleased to know that both entangled seals featured in the segment were successfully rescued by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and ourselves.

Huge thanks to Stefanie Hall at Keep Britain Tidy and the BBC’s Jonah Fisher for covering this important issue.

Photo of Sue Sayer talking outside her home about entanglment

Director Sue Sayer talking to the BBC

Photo of young seal entangled in gill net

This juvenile was rescued by SRT and BDMLR from gill net

Our very first entangled seal was ‘Lywans’ a beautiful young female on 19/08/2000. Rather incredibly and unusually, Lywans has survived her entanglement and is one of seven seals from 2000 that was still alive in 2022. We must assume that Lywans was rescued from her noose early on, but for her, entanglement has being a 22 year ongoing welfare issue.

A photo of adult female grey seal Lywans in 2000

Entangled seal S3 Lywans in 2000 (left)

A photo of adult female grey seal Lywans

Entangled seal S3 Lywans from a recent sighting (left)

Whenever our volunteers spot an entangled seal, we call British Divers Marine Life Rescue (01825 765546 – please put this number in your phone!) They will send a trained Marine Mammal Medic to assess the seal, its condition and situation and carry out a rescue wherever this is a realistic and safe action. An example of one such rescue appeared on the Simon Reeve in Cornwall programme which can be viewed by clicking here.

Here are five case studies of entangled seals tracked through their ordeal. WARNING some of these stories are distressing:

Riley; Lywans 1 and Lywans 2; Three belly scars; Legs and Birdfeeder

As a result of our experiences with Lywans and hundreds of other entangled grey seals in Cornwall, we have published a peer reviewed paper in the Marine Pollution Bulletin as well as commissioned reports for World Animal Protection and The Global Ghost Gear Initiative highlighting the reality of the issue of entanglement for our UK speciality seals. We have also published a peer reviewed paper about our Post Release Monitoring of rescued, rehabilitated and released grey seals.

Most recently, we presented a summary of our findings at a conference in Busan, Korea for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and for the global NGO The Pinniped Entanglement Group. You can watch a recording of our input by director Sue Sayer – just click here.

Photo of Sue Sayer

Sue talking at the 7IMCD Conference in Asia

Photo of juvenile male grey seal rescued from trawl net

Lucky star was rescued by SRT/BDMLR from trawl net

We are proud partners of these international NGOs: World Animal Protection, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Pinniped Entanglement Group.

To learn more about our work, please click here to explore the multitude of resources available on our googledrive, but be warned – they are not for the faint hearted! 

As a small charity researching and championing grey seals, we rely on your support. Whilst our overheads are minimal, our network of volunteers do need to be properly supported, resourced, upskilled and appreciated. To be cost effective, sustainable and resilient over the next decade, we aim to be self funding. You can help our marine conservation work with seals by:

Visiting our online shop when treating yourself or buying gifts for loved ones 

Signing up for our Wild Seal Supporter and Adoption scheme to get exclusive updates about your adopted seals

Looking cool by wearing our beautiful clothing – a work of art in itself

By donating to ensure we continue to be able to ‘give seals a voice’ through the evidence we collect and share with the world

Signing up for our FREE Seal SW Newsletters and Updates including invites to our monthly online Seals SW Sessions

Our oceans sustain us! The planet doesn’t need a plan B, people do! The BIGGEST THREATS to our planet are blue blindness; denial; apathy and myths/misconceptions. Our BIGGEST MISTAKE will be prioritising people, ourselves and us over nature. Nature sustains us – without it we have no food, drink or life! Help us tell this story.