Disturbing composite photos reimagine ocean pollution

Hundreds of thousands of marine animals — fish, reptiles, birds and mammals — die every year after ingesting or being entangled in garbage carried by ocean currents.

Portuguese artist Paulo de Oliveira’s shocking composite images of animals being strangled by discarded nets and gorging on plastic rubbish serve as a stark warning of the damage caused by human waste.

In his series,  a baby seal lion swims with a fishing net around its neck, a turtle munches on a coffee cup, a whale shark consumes plastic bags and a fish eats the remnants of a plastic lid while swimming through a sea of garbage.

De Oliveira, a 64-year-old former advertising executive turned professional diver and photographer, said: “I created these composite images to illustrate the amount of plastic garbage polluting our oceans. 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 cannot 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. It has already been witnessed by me and by many people but, except for honorable 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.” (Caters News)

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<p>A sea lion swims, wounded by nylon string and pieces of fishing net wrapped around his neck. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A sea lion swims, wounded by nylon string and pieces of fishing net wrapped around his neck. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A sea turtle eats a styrofoam cup. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage drift through oceans driven by wind and currents. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A sea turtle eats a styrofoam cup. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage drift through oceans driven by wind and currents. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>An Atlantic bobtail, sepiola atlantica, latches onto a cotton swab. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

An Atlantic bobtail, sepiola atlantica, latches onto a cotton swab. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News)

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<p>A titan triggerfish, balistoides viridescens, eats a plastic bottle. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A titan triggerfish, balistoides viridescens, eats a plastic bottle. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A Hawaiian monk seal, neomonachus schauinslandi, plays with an empty plastic bottle on a beach covered with plastic garbage. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A Hawaiian monk seal, neomonachus schauinslandi, plays with an empty plastic bottle on a beach covered with plastic garbage. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A whale shark, rhincodon typus, feeds in on plastic garbage. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A whale shark, rhincodon typus, feeds in on plastic garbage. (Composite photograph by Paulo de Oliveira/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A young northern fur seal, callorhinus ursinus, tangled in a nylon rope, grimly drags a string of nets, cables, and fishing wires behind her. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A young northern fur seal, callorhinus ursinus, tangled in a nylon rope, grimly drags a string of nets, cables, and fishing wires behind her. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A titan triggerfish, Balistoides viridescens, eats a plastic object. A lot of sea animals ingest plastic garbage because they think its edible food. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A titan triggerfish, Balistoides viridescens, eats a plastic object. A lot of sea animals ingest plastic garbage because they think its edible food. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A Pacific hermit crab, coenobita compressus, crawls wearing a lid of a plastic bottle as a shell. The hermit crabs uses empty shells to protect the soft part of its abdomen and make it inaccessible to predators. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A Pacific hermit crab, coenobita compressus, crawls wearing a lid of a plastic bottle as a shell. The hermit crabs uses empty shells to protect the soft part of its abdomen and make it inaccessible to predators. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A brown trout, salmo trutta, swims entangled with six-pack plastic rings. Used in beverage packaging, especially beer cans, these plastic rings, produce numerous animal entanglements in the rivers and seas. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A brown trout, salmo trutta, swims entangled with six-pack plastic rings. Used in beverage packaging, especially beer cans, these plastic rings, produce numerous animal entanglements in the rivers and seas. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A cotton swab is seen inside a comb jelly. This transparent animal, a planktonic predator, feeds mostly on other comb jellies that are pulled into its large mouth and swallowed whole. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A cotton swab is seen inside a comb jelly. This transparent animal, a planktonic predator, feeds mostly on other comb jellies that are pulled into its large mouth and swallowed whole. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

<p>A sea turtle eats a plastic detergent bottle. Plastic bags and other rotting plastic trash drift through oceans driven by wind and ocean currents. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News) </p>
Ocean pollution reimagined

A sea turtle eats a plastic detergent bottle. Plastic bags and other rotting plastic trash drift through oceans driven by wind and ocean currents. (Photo: Paulo Di Oliviera/ARDEA/Caters News)

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