British wildlife choked by our polluted rivers of plastic as shameful images show swans and otters forced to swim through streams of discarded litter
- On the Trent a swan was photographed diving as a white plastic bag floated past
- In Norfolk, an old bottle lay in the path of an otter as it patrolled its territory
- Trout were photographed swimming past rubbish in the rivers Derwent and Wye
- You can sign up for the Great British Spring clean here, 240,113 have already
These shameful images highlight how plastic litter is blighting the lives of wild animals in our waterways.
Campaigners say bottles, tubs and wrappers are almost as common as willows and reeds in parts of some rivers.
On the Trent, a swan was photographed diving beneath the water – as a white plastic bag floated past like a ghost.
In Norfolk, an old bottle lay in the path of an otter as it patrolled its territory on the Little Ouse.
Young female Otter taken on the little ouse in Norfolk, the rubbish had collected in fallen trees by the bank creating a heap for her to hunt through
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And trout were photographed swimming past rubbish in the rivers Derwent and Wye, both in Derbyshire.
All of these pictures were taken in the last month to document the damage being done to British rivers and their inhabitants.
The problem of plastic litter has been consistently highlighted by the Daily Mail, which is now supporting the Great British Spring Clean, organised by Keep Britain Tidy.
A Rainbow Trout (foreground fish) seen swimming with litter photographed in the River Wye, Derbyshire
A brown trout swims next to a plastic bottle in the river Derwent in Derbyshire a tributary of the river Trent
Between March 22 and April 23, we hope to enlist half a million people to pick up litter in their local areas.
So far 240,113 have signed up to the campaign, which has been backed by Prince William, Prime Minister Theresa May and environmentalist Chris Packham, among others.
Photographer Jack Perks was asked to document plastic pollution by Greenpeace at various sites around the UK.
He said: ‘The otter was a young female taken on the Little Ouse in Norfolk, the rubbish had collected in fallen trees by the bank creating a heart dropping sight watching this fantastic creature having to hunt in a sea of plastic.’
Describing his pictures of brown trout, Mr Perks said: ‘The river Trent is my local river and it goes through the city of Nottingham, lots of litter gets blown in and even thrown into the river by the public, meaning the local wildlife have to feed around the rubbish, in fact it hardly fazes them as they are so used to the sight of litter.’ As well as the large pieces of plastic we can see, all rivers in the UK are thought to be polluted by microplastics.
These come from disintegrating pieces of large plastic, such as carrier bags, as well as synthetic fabrics as they are washed.
Greenpeace said it is launching a survey of rivers to assess the levels of microplastics.
Fiona Nicholls, of Greenpeace, said BBC TV’s Blue Planet programmes had raised awareness of the devastating impact plastic is having on marine life.
‘These pictures now show that our plastic crisis is also affecting our wildlife much closer to home,’ she added. ‘It’s a heartbreaking thought, but plastic is gradually becoming as much a feature of British rivers as willows and reeds. And this is just the plastic pollution that’s visible to the naked eye.
A mute swan is photographed next to a plastic bag in the river Trent, the third longest in the UK
‘Over 68,000 people have already signed a petition asking the Government to set and properly enforce targets to reduce throwaway plastic which would help to restore our nature.
‘Our investigation into plastic pollution in Britain’s major rivers will gather scientific and photographic evidence to make sure the Government listens.’
It is easy to sign up to the Great British Spring Clean. To get involved, on your own or in a group, sign up at gbspringclean.org.
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