Shocking photo shows seal in British harbour with its head stuck in a plastic bag

The seal freed itself from the bag after 15 minutes (Picture: SWNS)
The seal freed itself from the bag after 15 minutes (Picture: SWNS)

This shocking image shows a seal in a British harbour with its head trapped in a plastic bag.

The animal was photographed with its head stuck in the carrier bag in the waters of Brixham, Devon.

The seal had been playing in the harbour when it got its head trapped. It struggled for about 15 minutes before managing to set itself free.

Amateur photographer Martyn Cannan, 57, an examiner from Paignton, was watching the seal when it ran into the single-use carrier bag.

He captured an image of the seal with its head trapped in the bag and shared it online.

“It was glorious weather on Saturday afternoon and we always keep a lookout for the seals – it’s a highlight when we see one,” he said.

“I took the picture because we were debating what to do and I was going to send it to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek and ask them for advice.

“It was obviously bothering him but after 10 to 15 minutes or so he managed to free himself.

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“There was quite a crowd watching and there was relief all round.

“If my picture raises people’s awareness and stops one person from throwing a plastic bag into the sea then it’s done its job.”

The seal was photographed at Brixham Harbour, Devon (Picture: SWNS)
The seal was photographed at Brixham Harbour, Devon (Picture: SWNS)

A pod of about 20 seals live in the waters around Brixham.

Sarah Greenslade carries out seal identification in the area for British Divers Marine Life Rescue and photographs the colony daily.

She has also taken pictures of seals caught up in plastic bags in the harbour.

On one occasion, she photographed a seal with a jumper tangled around his head. In another incident, a seal became trapped in the spokes of an umbrella.

She said: “There was also a seal a few weeks ago in the inner harbour which I photographed with a plastic bag on its head, then a jumper.”

Mr Cannan shared the image on the Tor Bay Harbour Authority’s Facebook page, which said the image highlighted issues faced by marine wildlife.

A spokesperson said: “Thankfully the seal managed to extricate itself from the bag. This really illustrates the risk of littering and the need for cleaner coasts.”

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