By Hayley Pugh
Shocking images of animals being strangled by discarded nets and gorging on plastic rubbish have been released as a stark warning of the damage caused by human waste.
A crab eating a cotton bud, a baby seal choking on a fishing net and a turtle munching on a polystyrene cup all feature in the series of composite pictures created by Paulo de Oliveira.
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Young northern fur seal, Callorhinus ursinus, tangled in a nylon rope, and dragging grimly behind her a string of nets, cables, and fishing wires. Is doomed to die of hunger or to infect the wound in the neck. Hundreds of thousands of marine animals.
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Titan triggerfish, Balistoides viridescens, eating a plastic bottle. Plastic bags and a lot of other plastic garbage drift through oceans driven by wind and ocean currents. And sometimes they pile up in dense dumps in the ocean gyros.
Other powerful images show a whale gorging on plastic bags and a fish eating the remnants of a coffee cup while swimming through a sea of garbage.
The 64-year-old from Portugal combined several images to create each disturbing composite picture – creating the series as a stark warning of the damage being done to our oceans.
The former advertising executive turned professional diver and photographer said: “I created these composite images to illustrate the amount of plastic garbage polluting our oceans.
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Brown trout, Salmo trutta, entangled with six pack rings. Those set of connected plastic rings are used in beverage multi-packs in particular beer cans. In the rivers and at the sea they produce numerous animal entanglements
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Swimming crab, Polybius henslowii, eating the cotton from a used cotton swab that he found floating in mid water. Those crabs swim in pelagic swarms and feed on sardines, squid and other animals.
“I wanted to make people understand the enormity of this environmental attack and how it affects the entire marine food chain.
“It is a theme that needs strong images that one often can not capture directly in nature with the necessary quality.
“Nothing that can be seen in these images is unrealistic fantasies though. All this happens every day in some parts of the oceans.
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Pacific hermit crab, Coenobita compressus. With a lid of a plastic bottle as shell. The hermit crabs use empty shells to pretect the soft part of the abdomen; to make it inaccessible to predators.
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Hermit crab using a small plastic football ball as a shell. The hermit crabs use empty shells to pretect the soft part of the abdomen; to make it inaccessible to predators.
“It has already been witnessed by me and by many people but, except for honourable exceptions, it has not been directly portrayed in nature with force that I have tried to present in these compositions.
“In general, people respond well to images even when they know they have not been captured directly in nature.
“As I worked in advertising I see this technique as just another tool that allows me to express my creativity.
“I hope it is useful and makes people think a little about the reality of what is happening.”
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News: Atlantic bobtail, Sepiola atlantica, latching onto a cotton swab. This small squid feed usually on young fish and other small animals. He grabbed itself on this cotton swab thinking it was something edible and Its probably trying to gnaw the plastic tube
Pic by Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News : Cotton swab inside a Comb jelly, Beroe cucumis. This transparent animal its a planktonic predator that mostly feeds on other comb jellies that are pulled into the large mouth and swallowed whole.