A seal living along the coast of the United Kingdom was entangled with a lacerating plastic ring for six years until he was finally freed from the choking material debris recently. Reports on Wednesday, January 17, show that local authorities and rescue teams were able to remove the plastic covering the seal, named Commuter, for many years.
Commuter the seal was first spotted back in September 2017 by volunteers from the marine conservation charity organization Seal Research Trust (SRT), also known as the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust. It was the SRT that realized the seal had been caught in the plastic ring, which reduces the marine mammal’s chance of survival.
An immediate rescue operation could have been possible in 2017 but it was proven to be dangerous since Commuter kept on going to inaccessible terrain. As a result, there were no successful rescues to remove the plastic ring from the mammal due to geographical challenges posed by the plastic-entangled seal. It was only until Sunday, January 14, when rescuers were able to remove the plastic.
Commuter the Seal Rescued
The successful disentanglement took place on Sunday soon after SRT surveyor Andy Rogers spotted Commuter at his local haul site out site accompanied by relatively small number of seals. When low tide struck the area, Rogers alerted the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), whose members swung into action for the rescue attempt of Commuter, who weighs over 440 pounds as an adult seal.
In a media release by BDMLR, medics from the UK rescue organization in Cornwall and surveyors from the SRT removed the plastic ring around Commuter’s neck after suffering for six years, resulting in wounds which was later cleaned out. Commuter the seal was eventually released to his natural marine habitat.
Commuter will be constantly tracked by members of the SLR and BDMLR even after he was released. The monitoring aims to ensure the progress and healing of the UK seal in the saltwater environment. In a video report uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday, Commuter can be seen returning to the waters after six medics removed the plastic ring from him. Rogers also assisted during the rescue operation.
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Marine Plastic Pollution
The case of Commuter the seal is only one of the many incidents of plastic entanglement affecting marine animals in the world amid a growing problem of marine plastic pollution. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 400 million tons of plastics are produced annually and 14 million of these plastic materials end up in the world’s oceans.
Based on related cases in recent years, marine animals like fish, seals, turtles, and whales end up either being entangled with plastic or consuming this debris, which they mistake as food, according to reports.
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