From a lobster in a traffic cone to a sea anemone on an Irn Bru can: Shocking photos show how sea creatures in Scotland are now LIVING on our litter
- Ross McLaren documents litter while diving around sea lochs in Scotland
- His photos show lobsters in traffic cones and a sea anemones on Irn Bru cans
Shocking photos show sea creatures making homes out of litter – including a lobster living in a traffic cone and sea anemones growing on a can of Irn Bru.
Chemistry teacher Ross McLaren, 31, started documenting litter while diving around sea lochs in Scotland.
He reckons Scotland is one of the best places in the world for diving, but said littering has skyrocketed since lockdown.
Ross began diving in September 2016 and was stunned by starfish, anemones, lobsters, and bog tail squid.
But on one occasion he spotted a magnificent jellyfish – only to realise it was a Bag For Life.
He said the hobby can sometimes be depressing due to the quantity of rubbish, and needs to weigh up the benefits of removing litter if it has a sea-creature living in it.
Dad-of-one Ross, from Kilwinning, Ayrshire, said: ‘Most of the rubbish in my car is from doing dives, every six months I empty it out.
‘Some of the stuff I’ve seen under the water is decades old – a Nintendo controller, and cans of Tennent’s’ with the pin-up girls on them.
‘I accidentally fell in love with diving, and it’s good to show people what is happening.
‘Sea-creatures are making their homes in litter. People won’t care if they can’t see it.
‘One day in Greenock I saw what I thought was a huge jellyfish but it was actually a Bag For Life.
‘You can understand why a whale or a porpoise thinks a plastic bag is a jellyfish. I was totally oblivious as well. It’s really quite disheartening.
‘The Irn Bru can shocked a lot of people. There is a bottle which looks like Budweiser or Buckfast, and a wheel rim, and marine life have made homes there.’
Other discoveries include an old-fashioned kettle in Ballachulish, Highlands, and a bottle with a glove on it.
Ross added: ‘I think it has got worse since lockdown. There’s a general increase in the amount of litter in water.
‘People don’t realise what an impact it is having. I tend to do a lot of diving around the sea lochs, near Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne.’
One distressing image taken in 2019 showed a lobster with plastic tied around its claws, suggesting it had been caught and lobbed back into the water.
A lobster was also found hiding in a traffic cone as he was diving near Fairlie Quay, Largs, North Ayrshire, earlier this month.
Ross added: ‘I was really quite surprised to see it – the visibility is sometimes not the best and it wasn’t the easiest shot to get.
‘The marine life do use litter as habitat. On this occasion I thought it best to leave it as it looked like the lobster has set up its home in there.
‘In some of my dives, I have seen the likes of a can of Irn Bru and it has grown with bits and pieces and that is where it becomes an ethical issue.
‘The incredible arrange of colours you can see is amazing – most people think that Scottish marine life is dull and grey on the surface but underneath it is full of colour.
‘I’m not a marine biologist or an eco-warrior,’ he said, adding: ‘It’s easy to stop litter.’
Eight million tonnes of plastics find their way into the ocean every year
Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled.
With half of these going to landfill, half of all plastic bottles that are recycled go to waste.
Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter.
This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.
Bottles are a major contributor to the increasing amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
Researchers warned eight million tonnes of plastics currently find their way into the ocean every year – the equivalent of one truckload every minute.
The amount of plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 unless the world takes drastic action to further recycle, a report released in 2016 revealed.
At current rates, this will worsen to four truckloads per minute in 2050 and outstrip native life to become the largest mass inhabiting the oceans.
An overwhelming 95 per cent of plastic packaging – worth £65 – £92billion – is lost to the economy after a single use, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report stated.
And available research estimates that there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today.
So much plastic is dumped into the sea each year that it would fill five carrier bags for every foot of coastline on the planet, scientists have warned.
More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20.
The US and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.
While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science.