VISITORS to the Northumberland coast have been urged not to turn into litter bugs.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust has appealed to everyone to take their litter home, or put it into designated bins at the seaside as throwing it into the sea can have devastating consequences for marine life.
The charity says that 80 percent of rubbish found in the sea is from the land, with 20 per cent from boats, and one in every 5kg of plastic waste ends up there.
About 250 tonnes of litter is removed from the North Sea each year, but it is only a fraction of the total amount and there is 30 times more plastic in the Pacific than plankton.
A disposable nappy can take 500 years to photo degrade, while plastic bottles take 450 years, and if marine animals swallow them they can suffer a slow and painful death.
Turtles, basking sharks, whales and dolphins can mistake the rubbish for food, but ingestion and digestion is almost impossible and it either gets tangled in their stomach or completely blocks their gut. Sea birds can also become entangled in plastic bags.
Trust Head of Land Management Duncan Hutt said: “I have seen people throw rubbish into the sea rather than put it in a rubbish bin 5ft away, which really infuriates me.
“Rubbish thrown into the sea has to go somewhere and people don’t give any thought to where it goes or the fatal damage it causes.
“At a time when marine life is under increasing threat, I would urge members of the public to spare a thought for what’s living under the sea when they are hurling their rubbish into it. Our message is simple, take it home or put it in the bin.”