Huge seal sand drawing launches beach clean-up campaign

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The sand drawing of a seal surrounded by plastic highlights the impact of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, campaigners say

A huge sand drawing of a seal besieged by plastic has been created to launch a nationwide beach clean-up campaign.

The 164ft (50m) artwork was created at Cayton Bay in North Yorkshire in a bid to highlight the impact of plastic pollution on marine wildlife.

Campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) said they hoped it would mobilise people to clean up their local areas.

The aim was to clear a million miles of the UK's beaches and other outdoor spaces by the end of 2021, SAS said.

The marine conservation charity said research it had commissioned suggested more than half of 2,000 British adults surveyed had seen more plastic on UK beaches than wildlife.

The study, by Opinium, also found 74% of respondents had spotted more than 10 pieces of plastic or litter on an average walk.

Meanwhile, 54% of respondents thought the coronavirus pandemic had led to an increase in plastic pollution due to the use of disposable facemasks and other single-use plastic items.

Artists Sand In Your Eye created the huge seal artwork on Cayton Bay for the new campaign

Plastic pollution is having "detrimental effects" on marine mammals, Surfers Against Sewage say

SAS said it hoped to inspire 100,000 volunteers to "stop plastic from getting into the sea" when the "million mile beach clean" gets under way next month.

Jack Middleton, community and events manager at SAS, said: "Plastic pollution has been an issue for decades, but it's more vital than ever to work on it now.

"We've all been to the beaches, we've all been to parks and seen plastic strewn everywhere. Every year 100,000 mammals and over a million seabirds die from entanglement in, or ingestion of, plastic pollution.

"Animals that live off the coast here - seals, porpoises and dolphins - are coming into contact with plastic every day and it's having detrimental effects."

Surfers Against Sewage said it needed people to help stop plastic pollution affecting marine wildlife

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Our priority is rightly to protect public health during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but this does not dilute our existing commitments to tackling single-use plastics and combating litter.

"It's vital we all dispose of our waste - including used items of PPE - in the correct manner."