A discarded plastic cup appears to have taken the life of an unfortunate reptile, found dead on a Western Australian beach.
In just 90 minutes, 70 kilograms of rubbish was hauled from the shoreline at Ammo Jetty in Perth, last month.
Twenty-six volunteers from environment group Sea Shepherd were racing against an incoming storm which they feared would wash the trash back out to sea.
Items removed by the clean-up crew included 144 sanitary products, 300 metres of recreational fishing line and broken glass.
Annually, entanglement is believed to kill more than 100,000 marine creatures, and plastic is estimated to kill over one million seabirds.
Sea Shepherd campaigner Marina Hansen said dolphins, birds and other marine species are commonly found by volunteers to have been killed by items discarded by humans.
She said while the blame has long been placed on the shoulders of consumers, it’s time for the producers of plastic to clean up their act.
“Everybody has a part to play in helping our environment… that’s been the direction of the narrative for some time” she said.
“We need now to change the direction of the narrative and work towards the source, because if we can turn off the source of the problem we’re not going to be seeing these kinds of impacts on the environment.”
‘Heartbreaking’ lizard find on Perth beach
It's not just marine animals who are killed by our waste. Back on land, everyday household items frequently result in the deaths of birds, lizards and mammals.
As the Sea Shepherd volunteers cleaned up the beach, they were alerted by a passer-by to a bobtail lizard, a type of blue-tongue skink, with its head caught in a plastic cup.
“Pretty upset” is how the member of public was feeling, according to Sea Shepherd volunteer Brett Oliver, who spoke to them after the find.
The lizard had been stuck inside the cup for so long its body had started to decompose.
President of wildlife rescue group FAWNA, Suzanne Strapp, said bobtail lizards are common around the foreshore opposite Garden Island.
Looking at images of the dead lizard, Ms Strapp said it likely got its head caught searching for a snail or other food.
She said many lizards refuse to let go of their prey once they have it in their jaws, leading to frequent calls for rescuers to assist trapped animals.
“Really, it’s sad because it’s something that’s so preventable,” she said.
“It’s heartbreaking because it’s something we all need to take responsibility for and it's just lazy not to take your rubbish and debris home.”
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