These horrific photos show a young seal which died on a Scottish island after becoming entangled in fishing netting.
Environmentalists believe the seal is likely to have starved to death, due to its body mass and bones protruding.
It was estimated to be around a year old when it was found on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides island, at the start of the month.
Ecologists believe that seals, whales and deer are becoming entangled in netting and even Frisbees on a frequent basis.
Noel Hawkins, 48, who works for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “We are seeing a lot more animals tangled in nets.
“We’ve even seals with dog Frisbees trapped around their necks – if they are small, they grow into it.
“Last year there was a whale which was found with webbing around its mouth, and a deer which got entangled with netting not far from where the seal was found.
“These are iconic Scottish species which are dying because of rubbish, which is against everything Scotland stands for as a haven of wildlife.
“Judging from these photos, the body mass was relatively low and the bones were protruding, suggesting the seal starved to death.
“It was trapped in trawl nets, but whether for fish or for prawns I’m not sure.”
The former fisherman added: “Sometimes the netting gets lost accidentally, other times it could be thrown over the side.
“My message is to highlight the necessity of cleaning rubbish from our shores, and to stop it reaching the sea in the first place.”
Noel believes that only three to five per cent of rubbish in the oceans reaches the shores.
He added: “There isn’t an easy fix, we are going to be cleaning rubbish for the rest of our lives.
“Anecdotally, all the Hebrides are bad for rubbish as it comes in from the Atlantic.
“Even on the mainland there are certain beaches which don’t have much litter, and others which are covered.”
By Sarah Ward
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