Seal pup recovering after ingesting a plastic bag

30 November 2018, 11:10 | Updated: 30 November 2018, 11:14

Staff shocked to discover likely reason why severely ill and malnourished seal pup found himself in need of rescue.

The Pup, named after Queen legend Brian May, was rescued at 5 weeks old by British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) due to severe malnourishment and superficial wounds. 

The seriousness of his condition came to light during his first week recovering at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. 

He spent the majority of his time sleeping, and when it came to feeding times he had trouble swallowing fish and the team had to gently force feed him fish in order for him to eat. 

It came as a great shock when Brian May passed two pieces of plastic bag, totaling 8cm in diameter. 

The Sanctuary are aware that rubbish in the ocean affects seals, previous research conducted at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has indicated that seals ingest plastic via fish. 

Seals in Cornwall are also heavily affected by plastic pollution and entanglement. 

Volunteer surveys conducted by Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, around the South West of England identified 102 different entangled seals in 2016/17 alone. 

However, Brian May is the first example the Sanctuary had seen of a seal directly ingesting a plastic bag. 

Tamara Cooper, curator said: "Brian May was extremely lucky to come to us, to receive the vital care he needed." 

"He is currently recovering well in the hospital, gaining weight and learning to eat for himself, and thankfully he is now off treatment." 

Seals are extremely curious and playful creatures; they won’t understand these foreign objects. It is extremely sad to think of all the seals out there that are at risk of the increasing threat of plastic pollution. 

The Sanctuary has had 28 casualties of the sea so far this season; the team have chosen an 80’s theme for names. Brian May will be in good company, with his fellow pool mates Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor.