A shark with a difference is being released into Ilfracombe harbour today (Monday, March 4).

Ilfracombe harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat at the launch of the WasteShark at Ilfracombe Harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon-WWF-UKIlfracombe harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat at the launch of the WasteShark at Ilfracombe Harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon-WWF-UK

The UK's first ever WasteShark will be making its UK debut in North Devon as it bids to rid the seas of waste including plastic and micro plastics.

The autonomous marine robot is being launched by WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue this afternoon at 3pm.

It can roam through distances of up to five kilometres of water, capturing up to 60 kilos of waste at a time.

If used five days a week the WasteShark is likely to collect in excess of 15 tonnes of waste a year, with the plastic recycled to make products.

This is the first time that a WasteShark has been used in the UK, following successful launches in five countries, including South Africa and UAE.

Created by RanMarine Technology, the WasteShark is the world's first marine robot designed specifically to eat waste and collect data.

As it navigates the water the WasteShark emits no carbon, produces no noise or light pollution, and poses no threat to wildlife.

It can roam for up to eight hours on one charge. It is programmed with GPS points to ensure that it covers hotspots where waste gathers, and its path can be programmed and monitored remotely. As well as plastic it will extract oils, other pollutants and pest plants such as types of algae.

The WasteShark on the prowl for waste. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UKThe WasteShark on the prowl for waste. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UK

WWF is a partner in the North Devon Marine Pioneer, working in partnership with local and national organisations to develop innovative approaches for management of the marine environment.

North Devon Council's member for the environment, Councillor Rodney Cann says: "I am extremely excited about the introduction of the WasteShark to Ilfracombe Harbour.

"This is an extremely positive step towards tackling the plastic pollution crisis by clearing plastic and other waste from the harbour before it reaches the sea.

"We will be working with the Ocean Recovery Project to ensure the plastic recovered from the harbour through the WasteShark is recycled. This is part of our ongoing campaign to protect our local environmental and keep North Devon a very special place."

The mouth of the WasteShark collects marine rubbish from Ilfracombe. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UKThe mouth of the WasteShark collects marine rubbish from Ilfracombe. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UK

Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat added: "This innovative drone that quite literally eats up plastics, micro plastics, oils and invasive algae will be a huge aid in keeping the harbour clear of rubbish and helping to educate on the effects of plastics in the sea.

"All rubbish collected will be processed by the Ocean Recovery Project, which will prevent the majority from ending up in landfill. This is an exciting time and I am very happy that the harbour and North Devon Council have the privilege of being a part of it."

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the oceans each year, injuring and killing the wildlife that ingests it or become entangled in it.

WasteShark technicians Tessa and Peter take the machine to the waters edge ready to be deployed in Ilfracombe Harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UKWasteShark technicians Tessa and Peter take the machine to the waters edge ready to be deployed in Ilfracombe Harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UK

Peter who is a technician for the WasteShark looks at data received from the robot on his laptop.

WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue are launching an autonomous marine robot in Ilfracombe harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UKPeter who is a technician for the WasteShark looks at data received from the robot on his laptop. WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue are launching an autonomous marine robot in Ilfracombe harbour. Picture: Nick Kindon / WWF-UK