A life-size sculpture of a seal and her pup has been created out of rubbish cleared from a beach over six months.
It has been made by a local artist for the Essex Wildlife Trust from discarded plastic items picked off a beach at Walton-on-the-Naze.
A number of seals along the east coast have had to be rescued after becoming trapped in waste strewn across beaches.
The rubbish seal, named Poly (after polystyrene), was unveiled on Saturday at the trust’s Naze Centre.
Its creator Sue Lynas, who regularly works with recycled materials, said she was approached by the wildlife trust who said “as I was a rubbish artist would I like to have a go at making something”.
Poly was made entirely of rubbish collected by litter pickers from the local beach.
“But what you see here is just the tip of the iceberg,” Mrs Lynas said.
She said most of the beach waste was plastic – including a toy dinosaur, a Barbie doll leg, crisp packets, cotton buds – and some items which were more than 20 years old.
“I was pleased that we found very few plastic bottles, so the message about those may be getting through,” she added.
Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series raised awareness of the environmental damage caused by plastic pollution and the environmentalist and broadcaster has called for the world to cut back on plastic to protect ocean life.
The seal sculpture was part of the wildlife trust’s Marine Awareness Week activities and will be taken to its other sites as well as to schools.