Search for Cornwall seal in trapped in trawler net

image copyrightCornwall Seal Group Research Trust
image captionThe image was shared by more than 3,300 people on Facebook by Monday

A search is on for a young seal with fishing net tightly wrapped around its neck after a "shocking" image was shared by thousands on social media.

The male was pictured entangled in the trawler net in Cornwall.

It was "scared into the sea" by people before it could be rescued on Thursday, conservationists said.

The mammal had probably become stuck in the web of thick rope while "trying to play with it," Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) said.

image copyrightCornwall Seal Group Research Trust
image captionAnyone who sees Lucky Star is advised not to approach him but call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue hotline
image copyrightFacebook
image captionDozens of people expressed their sadness at the post

Sue Sayer, from the trust, said: "Pups find a bit of net which is a really exciting toy to play with, and they swim over, under and round and through it - just like children play."

Ms Sayer spotted and photographed the young male during a routine data survey on the north coast of the county.

"It must be very uncomfortable, really horrible, it will be struggling to feed, swim and dive with the extra weight, and there is the risk the net could get stuck on a rock and suffocate him," she said.

The seal was named Lucky Star, because the group feels "optimistic" he will be saved. Anyone who sees it is asked to call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue hotline.

image copyrightJennifer Dykwer-Newsome / BDMLR
image captionA young seal rescued on Saturday was treated for infection then taken to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

CSGRT said 4% of seals it spots in Cornwall are entangled because of discarded or lost fishing gear being carried on the gulf stream.

Another young seal was rescued from a Cornish beach on Saturday with monofilament fishing net stuck around its neck, British Divers Marine Life Rescue said.

Volunteer Jen Dykwer-Newsome said they successfully transferred it to a vet where it was treated for a cut neck and high temperature.

Dale Rodmell, assistant chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said the industry was working with management authorities to "better understand the interactions of fishing gear and seal populations and to design effective mitigation measures".

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