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'The leap in awareness is immediate' - campaign to rid shores of frisbees sees impact

PUBLISHED: 14:39 17 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:40 17 September 2019

Pictured is one of  three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which  have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

Pictured is one of three seals along the Norfolk coast with their heads stuck in a plastic ring which have yet to be caught as of July 24, 2019 Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

FOHS

A campaign launched by a Norfolk community group has seen a vast spread in posters and increased awareness of the problems surrounding plastic rings.

Flying plastic rings make colourful bunting at a campaign launch but are lethal to seals if they find their way into the sea. A campaign is urging people to use them well away from the water's edge Picture: Liz CoatesFlying plastic rings make colourful bunting at a campaign launch but are lethal to seals if they find their way into the sea. A campaign is urging people to use them well away from the water's edge Picture: Liz Coates

Since the launch of the Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) appeal to keep seals safe from flying rings on July 24, more than 500 posters and 5,000 leaflets have been distributed across the county.

The campaign started after the figure of seals being harmed by plastic rings in Norfolk had risen from 11 cases to 34 last year.

FoHS said: "The campaign is to do with making people aware of what happens if people are not careful with the discs and they go straight in the sea.

"Caravan Parks, shops, cafes, museums, hotels, supermarkets and vets have all been happy to display the publicity."

New hi-vis vests are helping to spread the message about flying rings and seals Picture: Liz CoatesNew hi-vis vests are helping to spread the message about flying rings and seals Picture: Liz Coates

As well as the posters and leaflets, volunteers have been handing out surveys across Norfolk asking people how much they know about the dangers of plastic rings.

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"As expected visitors to the coast seem generally to be less aware also local residents and businesses have varied a lot in their knowledge of the problem.

"What is clear is that as soon as people, adults and children alike, see the poster and leaflet the leap in their awareness is immediate. Overwhelmingly sympathy and concern has been expressed for the stricken seals."

Chairman of the Friends of Horsey Seals with a cuddly seal at the launch of a campaign raising awareness of seals and plastic flying rings Picture: Liz CoatesChairman of the Friends of Horsey Seals with a cuddly seal at the launch of a campaign raising awareness of seals and plastic flying rings Picture: Liz Coates

The poster features an engaging seal image by local wildlife artist Lorraine Auton and the leaflet tells the stories of three lucky seals on the brink of dying from their flying ring injuries who the team at Horsey helped rescue.

The publicity materials were funded by Sea-Changers and the campaign is supported by the RSPCA, British Divers and Marine and Wildlife Rescue.

FoHS said: "Twenty five primary and 20 coastal secondary schools were also contacted and some of the children made their own posters of the injured seals before the start of the summer holiday."

When asked 'What message does the seal [in the poster] give?' A pupil from Acle Primary School said: "He is saying 'help me' because it is not his fault he can't get out of the ring."

Seals on Blakeney PointSeals on Blakeney Point

FoHS said: "We need to keep talking to local people and visitors about the campaign, build on links we have made with local businesses, councils and identify ambassadors who are actively promoting the campaign."

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