By Michael Scott
In these heartbreaking shots, an otter is shown clutching plastic to stop him drifting whilst he sleeps – thinking it was kelp.
While he smiles happily for the camera, the aquatic mammal seems completely at ease with what could potentially be a fatal encounter, if he becomes trapped in the plastic.
Photographer Douglas Croft, 60 from San Jose, California caught the distressing shot in Moss Landing Harbor, in Monterey Bay.
Douglas said, “When I came along, he was already rolling in the discarded bag.
“Often, otters will wrap themselves in kelp to keep from drifting while they nap.
“It appeared that this one was using the plastic for that purpose.
“It is heart-wrenching to see and it is a big problem.
“We retrieve mylar (foil helium) balloons from the bay all the time, people just let them go and they have to come down somewhere.
“I contacted the Marine Mammal Center when I saw this happening, and they sent a boat to retrieve the plastic, though the otter did not want to give up his “blanket”.
“It’s cute but it’s so dangerous”