A Canadian fisherman caught a fish in the South Saskatchewan River that screamed a message about the destructive nature of littering and the importance of properly discarding every little piece of trash.
Adam Turnbull was fishing in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on Saturday when he landed a northern pike he believed had been attacked by another fish, until he looked closer.
The pike had grown around a piece of plastic. It turned out to be a plastic wrapper from a Powerade bottle and it was wrapped tightly at the mid-section where the fish grew around it.
"I was fishing at Strathcona Park when I hooked the fish," Turnbull recalled to Global News. "It fought like every other fish and then I saw the wound.
"I picked the fish out of the water and noticed the wrapper."
Turnbull photographed the fish and used a small pair of scissors to carefully cut away the plastic. He then released the fish back into the river and it "took off like a dart," he wrote on Facebook.
The 28-year-old fisherman posted the disturbing images on Facebook with this message: "Pick up your garbage. This is a Powerade wrapper which takes up no room in your pocket until you get to a garbage can. Please share!"
And people are sharing, to the tune of more than 13,700 times as of Tuesday afternoon.
A biologist told Turnbull that it appeared the plastic was squeezing the fish behind its stomach, on the intestines, allowing the pike to eat properly, though with a slower digestion.
"[That's] basically the entire reason this fish survived," Turnbull told Global News. "If it had been located an inch or two forward, the fish would have likely never fed."
The biologist expected the pike to thrive. The photos, meanwhile, will live on as an anti-litter campaign, showing people that "something as small as this can have a devastating impact on the environment."
"I mean, for any person to claim they've never littered intentionally or unintentionally would be a lie for most of us," Turnbull told Global News.
"But seeing what it does first-hand makes you really want to grab that piece of garbage you see lying on the ground, whether it was yours or not."
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