by Lucy Harvey
These huge plastic inflatables of seahorses, turtles, fish and other animals lie strewn and abandoned at the bottom of seas and oceans.
The beach toys are loved by families at the seaside but are often then dumped to wash away in the water and wreck habitats.
Now a project is underway to clean our seas and oceans of the inflatables, some of which are three metres long.
Tom Kelly, a visual communications lecturer, has led the mission and has snapped cleanup underwater in parts of the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and even Atlantic Ocean.
“As millions enjoy holidays at the sea, we are leaving behind a legacy of plastic waste. Colourful plastic beach toys and inflatables are cheap to buy in seafront shops,” Mr Kelly, of Dublin, Ireland, said.
“They are seldom taken home or recycled, many are abandoned in the sea and on the seashore. I am shocked at the size of some of these inflatables, many being two to three metres long.
“These plastic toys represent a tiny fraction of the plastic waste in our oceans, and I have tried to capture a visible and visual manifestation of the real plastic invasion, most of which we cannot readily see.
“They also highlight the strange paradox where these unnatural objects are modelled on nature itself, becoming absorbed back into nature, but at what cost?”
The snapper’s pictures show inflatables which resemble crocodiles, dolphins, sharks and other great wildlife which poses threats to the habitats of these animals.
Mr Kelly added: “I will continue to photograph in the hope that these images may bring an awareness to people that we all have it in our power to halt this plastic invasion.
“Keenly appreciative of the unique beauty and diversity of the underwater seascape, I felt compelled to take photographs that subvert the expectations of the viewer, to think about the destructive and enduring result of this plastic in the sea.
“As a recreational scuba diver for about 17 years, I have experienced a great thrill and connection with the sea and sealife and its underwater environment when diving around the coast of Ireland and the Canary Islands.”