By Kristiana Hall
In this series of heartwrenching shots, a bird which had plastic lodged in its blood-encrusted beak was finally freed.
Michiel Oversteegen, 50, took the pictures revealing the devastating impact of fishing waste on the environment on the ‘paradise’ island of Arbua in the Dutch Caribbean, of the coast of Venezuela.
He became concerned when he spotted the young brown booby bird, which had a fishing lure and line caught on its left wing, and tried to catch it multiple times to prevent a slow, painful death.
Days later, after spotting the bird with another lure painfully attached to its beak, and with other birds chasing it thinking the dangling artificial plastic fish was real, Michiel became even more determined to help.
He eventually managed to remove both lures after fellow bird watcher Michael Tromp and his wife Glenda caught the animal while it was resting on the shore, and the booby happily made a full recovery.
Commercial engineer and keen bird watcher Michiel, originally from the Netherlands, is now calling for his island to properly dispose of fishing waste to prevent its flora and fauna.
He said: “Aruba is known as paradise to many visitors, but this positive image causes near-sightedness for our policymakers and tourist industry, as there are still many challenges.
“In Aruba there are no disposal bins in areas people use to fish, and it would help if fishermen take all their gear back home and dispose of fishing line and tackle properly.
“Becoming entangled in fishing line can lead to injuries and even death if the line is wrapped around a bird’s legs, bill or wings because it can hinder a bird’s ability to hunt, forage and fly.
“We need to be enforcing nature protection, and reducing both marine and land litter.
“When we finally freed the bird, it took seconds to remove the lures.
“I like to think the later shots of it foraging and diving were it showing off for me.”