By Lauren Fruen
THESE heartbreaking images show a female turtle unable to eat after a plastic bag became lodged in her throat.
The shocking pictures were taken by university lecturer Saeed Rashid on a trip to the Red Sea last month.
The 46-year-old, who works at Bournemouth University, said: “At the end of a dive on a reef called Big Gota, we came across two hawksbill turtles, a male and female feeding on jellyfish.
“I got close to the female and took a few photos of her eating. Then I realised she had a plastic bag in her mouth and in fact wasn’t able to eat, she was just nudging the jellyfish clearly in some distress.
“I’ve been diving for 20 years and been lucky to travel all over the world and I’m now seeing a massive increase in the amount plastic floating about, I’ve always collected what I can but I know it’s such a small drop in the very real ocean.”
Saeed said the bag was eight inches down the turtle’s throat and “she was clearly very hungry”.
He said: “I had to try and help so I put away my camera and tried to pull the bag from its mouth.
“The plastic bag was not only in her mouth but also down her throat. I had to hold onto its shell and try to wrestle from her.
“The turtle was surprisingly calm and let me manhandle her a little and once she opened her mouth the bag came out.
“There was about 8 inches down her throat and wouldn’t have been able to eat.
“Almost as soon as I pulled the bag out she tried to eat yet another bag that floated by.
“I quickly pulled that bag away and she went on to eat a few of the many jellyfish around us, she was clearly very hungry.”
Saeed said both turtles followed him up to the surface of the water and played with him.
He added: “Strangely we encountered more turtles on this trip than I had ever seen before but they will soon die out unless we do something now.
“I want our children to see with their own eyes what I’ve come to love on the oceans.
“I often talk about plastic waste in the ocean but have never seen it’s effect so close up.”