An otter has been spotted swimming in a UK river with a plastic cable tie stuck round its neck — and animal charities are worried about its safety. 

A photograph was taken of the otter as it swam in the River Stour in Dorset, in the south west of Britain. 

The UK Wild Otter Trust (UKWOT) fears the animal “could drown or choke” if the plastic tie gets caught underwater. 

“Rubbish being left behind is a huge issue,” the charity told the BBC. “If you leave rubbish for wildlife to get trapped or caught in — often they die a painful death.” 

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The charity is planning an emergency operation to trap the otter, which is believed to be a male, and remove the plastic. 

UKWOT is trying to get permission from Natural England, the government’s adviser for the natural environment, according to the BBC

The charity has now launched a campaign encouraging people to take their litter away with them after visiting Britain’s rivers and lakes. 

Read more: Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ Team Pick Up Every Bit of Litter They Find in the Ocean

“The cable tie is not a fashion accessory,” UKWOT tweeted. “Discarded waste can kill our wildlife! Please look out for plastic pollution on your patch and pick it up.” 

The news follows an increase of awareness surrounding the damage that plastic pollution is doing to aquatic wildlife, largely thanks to Sir David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II”. 

Sir David has already spoken out about the “heartbreaking” examples of plastic pollution that the team documented while filming the series. 

At the launch of the series in September, Attenborough revealed that teams had recorded seabirds feeding their chicks with scraps of plastic.

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“There is a shot of the young [albatross] being fed, and what comes out of the beak of the adult?” said Sir David, talking to Greenpeace before the series launch. “Not sand-eels, not fish, and not squid, which is what they mostly eat, but plastic. It’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking.” 

More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, and by 2050, it is predicted that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. 

“It is one world. And it’s in our care,” said Attenborough. “For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope it realises that that is the case.” 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including the goal to improve life below water and life on land. You can join us by taking action here.


Defend the Planet

An Otter Has a Cable Tie Caught Round Its Neck and It's Heartbreaking

By Imogen Calderwood