Council's seal sculpture makes its return

Marine Park First School visits seal sculpture

A life-size seal sculpture made from litter collected from North Tyneside’s beaches has returned.

After spending the winter months indoors to protect it from the elements, North Tyneside Council’s six-foot sculpture is sitting proudly on Whitley Bay’s coastline once again. 

Created by local artists Beth Huttly and Alex Welch last year, the sculpture is made from plastic bottles, straws, empty food cartons, face coverings and plastic bags and other items. 

In an effort to raise awareness of the issue and help people visualise the impact their actions have on marine life and the environment, the seal sculpture was installed last spring by the council and toured the borough’s coastline until late autumn. 

Speaking about its return, Cllr Sandra Graham, cabinet member for Environment, said: “The sculpture was a great talking point last year, with many people stopping to chat about its significance, and I am delighted it is back. 

“Single-use plastics create avoidable waste and the detrimental impact and damage to the environment and wildlife is huge. All-year round, the council, as well as community-spirited residents and local businesses, clear thousands of tonnes of rubbish, including single-use plastics, left on North Tyneside’s beaches.

“However, only last month, a real seal pup was found distressed with plastic wrapped tightly around its neck in Whitley Bay. Thankfully, it was freed, but this is the stark and upsetting reality of plastic pollution in our seas. It must stop. 

“I would urge everyone to not only take their litter home, but to please stop or reduce the number of single-use plastics they buy – like plastic water bottles and shopping bags, throwaway cutlery, polystyrene cups, etc.”

The seal will once again tour the North Tyneside coastline, moving to one of six locations every two weeks, starting outside the Spanish City Dome, to raise as much awareness as possible.

The sculpture supplements the council’s other work to tackle litter, including additional large bins along the coast, extra collections, beach wardens, regular litter picks, fixed penalty notices for those found littering and information posters.

It also forms part of the council’s focus to reduce single-use plastics in the borough, which has seen almost 20 public water fountains installed by the local authority, and its ambitions to work towards being carbon net zero by 2030.

Announced last autumn, the local authority is doing everything within its gift to try to reach net zero by 2030, twenty years ahead of the Government’s target.

A range of initiatives have already been delivered or are underway, including energy efficiency and energy generation measures in council homes and buildings; major steps forward in sustainable travel; further improvements to recycling; increasing planting of biodiversity areas and trees; electrifying appropriate council vehicles; and more.