Heartbreaking photos of how our garbage harms the animals

Heartbreaking photos of animals being hurt by our garbage.

We’ve all heard the push to ban plastic straws and reduce our plastic bag usage and we think we get it. Truth be told, we really don’t. We need to step our game up as Earth’s top species because the rest of the planet is suffering for it.

After a photo of ‘Vinny’ the seagull covered in curry went viral, we should all use this moment to think about the environment instead of making memes. Just because it’s really not funny. Here’s what all our trash is doing to Earth’s animals.

‘Vinny’ The Curry-Covered Seagull Thought To Be An Exotic Species

People thought this bright orange seagull was actually an exotic bird when they saw it struggling to fly on the side of the highway because of all the curry in its wings. It was only when it was rescued and brought to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital did they find out it was actually a seagull.

The internet collectively giggled because seagulls are those annoying flying gluttonous beach rats that steal our fries. But imagine this was a ‘nice’ bird, maybe a dove, swan, or eagle. It becomes a darker situation.

These Cows Are Calmly Resting In A Garbage Dump


Driving by farms and seeing the happy cows out to pasture is always a nice sight. This photo isn’t like that – these cows are resting in a place they shouldn’t be.

It’s unclear whether these cows have wandered here by accident or if this is where their owners take them to rest. Hopefully, they’re not grazing here because ruminant animals need plenty of grass to keep their stomachs healthy. Another concern is if these cows will eventually become food.

This Straw Was Removed From A Sea Turtle’s Nose

This is the horrifying video that started the campaign to eliminate plastic straws. With good reason too. A team of scientists hauled a sea turtle aboard their boat after he looked like he was having trouble breathing. Turns out there was a straw in his nose.

The team spent 10 minutes pulling the straw out. They were shocked at what they found. According to Christine Figgener, one of the team members, straws and other plastic debris typically end up in the sea turtles’ stomachs, so this turtle must’ve tried to dispel the straw and it got stuck.

This Photo Of A Baby Bird Trying To Eat A Cigarette Will Break Your Heart

Cigarette ends are everywhere. Just step outside onto any urban sidewalk and you’ll be able to spot at least 5 of them lying on the ground. This kind of litter accumulates and makes its way all the way down to the beach where birds get ahold of it.

Whatever your stance is on smoking, we should all be in agreement that birds should not be doing it. This chick clearly is confused as to whether this is part of the inedible white sand or food. Littering truly is a bad habit.

Turtle Caught In 6-Pack Rings Has A Deformed Shell As A Result

This is the reason why we cut the plastic rings of our 6-pack drink holders. Since these things are clear and light, they float through the ocean invisibly. Unfortunately, this and their size allows sea animals to swim through them without realizing until it’s too late.

This photo of a turtle is downright sad. This thing must’ve gotten stuck on its body at some point when it was younger and smaller and then the turtle’s shell grew around it. Since turtles can live up to 80 years, this could’ve been stuck for decades.

Sea Turtle Had This Deflated Balloon Pulled From Its Stomach

The American Humane Society was shocked when they went in to operate on a turtle and they found a blockage in its mouth and small intestine. The turtle is okay and recovering now, but it was a dicey situation for a while.

The Humane Society’s Twitter writes, ‘this turtle was taken to our South Florida Wildlife Center where he received care from the medical team. They removed a deflated balloon from his mouth, along with 2 large pieces that were stuck in his large intestine.’

This Bird Is Covered In A Plastic Bag And Can’t Get It Off

This isn’t the kind of plastic clothing you want to be wearing. This bird was caught up in a plastic bag and couldn’t escape, so it chewed a hole for its mouth and two for its legs.

From the photo, it’s hard to tell if the bird has holes for its wings or not, but either way, it’s safe to say it can’t fly. That plastic bag would generate too much drag and would make its flight path go wonky. Hopefully, the photographer tried to remove the bag after the photo.

Elephants Sifting Through Poorly Managed Garbage

It’s easy to ignore a ‘no dumping’ sign, but the consequences of doing so can negatively impact animals. When trash accumulates in places that are supposed to be nature reserves or ecosystems, animals can begin to raid the garbage for food scraps.

That’s exactly what’s happening in this photo. This trash was poorly managed and put into a place where animals could get at it. So these elephants have begun to forage through it for food. Unfortunately, they end up eating some and wearing others.

Seal Struggling With A Plastic Tube Around Its Belly

We’re aware we need to cut out plastic 6-pack rings, at least most of us are, but before we dispose of any constricting plastic tube we should stop and think if an animal could potentially get caught in it. That’s exactly what happened with this seal.

It’s hard to tell, but in the bottom left-hand corner of this photo, a seal is struggling to free itself from a plastic tube that has found its way around the middle of its belly. The poor thing is lying down looking defeated.

Seal With A Collar Made Of Netting

Just like turtles, other sea creatures inadvertently swim into garbage without realizing it. When you’re a seal swimming 18mph trying to catch your prey, you’re susceptible to swimming into rogue garbage that’s literally littering your path.

This poor guy has an entire collar made of this tangled net. The worst part is that he can’t get it off, and likely the more he swims around the more tangled and stuck it gets. Since seals are predators, this collar could potentially slow him down and hinder his ability to hunt for food.

Bird With A Piece Of Trash For Its Nest

We all know that birds love to collect. They will take anything shiny to use to build a nest for their families. It’s just troubling when they start taking pieces of plastic and use them to construct their homes.

This bird clearly loves this plastic bag and thinks it would be a good fit for its nest. Hopefully, it doesn’t swallow it and begin to choke. That’s the true danger that comes with all this plastic collection.

Plastic Bag Around Seal’s Neck Will Only Get Heavier And Tighter

This seal has the plastic bag collar that matches the netting collar around the other one’s neck. Though, this isn’t exactly the situation where you should want to go out and buy the fashionable item your friend is wearing. It’s an unfortunate match.

The trouble with this seal’s look is that it’s going to slowly fill up with water and other debris until it breaks or the seal can’t carry it anymore. Maybe the plastic bag is the modern albatross around one’s neck.

Sea Turtle Trails Netting And Other Garbage

Sea turtles are reptiles – they breathe air. This means that they must stay relatively close to the surface when they’re swimming to come up for air every so often. It’s not a hard task, unless you’re being dragged down by trailing garbage like this turtle.

This unfortunate turtle had the bad luck of getting caught up in a slew of ocean trash. There’s rope, netting, and everything else that has gotten picked up along the way. There’s no doubt that all this trailing garbage makes it hard for the turtle to come up for air and dive back down.

This Bird Decomposed But What It Ate Didn’t

Plastic waste can last around 1000 years before it decays. That means every single plastic container you’ve ever touched is going to outlive you. This photo of a bird demonstrates this point.

This bird’s organs and skin has long since become plant food, but what’s left behind is the plastic it has swallowed over the years. This is a terrifying amount of it too – trash nearly fills the space where the bird’s organs used to go. Truly shocking.

Calf Looking Through Garbage For Something

This is another instance of where a cow is found in a stinky situation where it shouldn’t be. In this case, it’s a calf looking for food scraps through a pile of garbage.

The calf is joined by other scavengers like the crow. Cows aren’t typically scavenger animals so their stomachs aren’t built to handle the naturally-occurring decay chemicals that birds like vultures and crows can. Fingers crossed this little guy makes it to greener pastures soon where he can eat all the grass he wants.

Sea Gull Stuck In 6-Pack Rings

For the people in the back who may not have heard the first time – cut your plastic 6-pack rings. If you don’t, then birds, fish, and other wildlife could get caught in it when they aren’t paying attention.

This photo looks like the gull is attempting to eat the plastic. Animals don’t know any better, so they try and eat plastic like it’s food before they realize it’s not. The result of chewing on plastic? Look at the previous picture.

This Rescued Turtle Was Already Dead From A Plastic Bag

When @gianluca.gotto was walking along the beach and saw a turtle washed up on the shore, he expected that it needed help. What he didn’t expect was to find out why it needed help in the first place.

He writes he saw ‘a huge turtle, with an entangled head. I was shocked when I saw that the poor creature was completely trapped in plastic. Dozens of threads around the fins but above all the tip of a bag that popped out of the mouth.’ The turtle had suffocated then floated ashore – truly heartbreaking.

Dog Struggles To Find A Meal Amidst Garbage On Street

The harsh reality is that street animals exist and they’re hungry for a meal. Another harsh reality is that plastic waste often piles up on the corners of city streets when people fail to dispose of it properly. Combine the two and you have a very sad situation.

This poor dog is looking for food scraps in a pile of plastic garbage. Who knows what it’s going to find and if it’s even edible. Hopefully, he’s able to eventually find something that’s not plastic. Though we’re doubtful.

Green Netting Is Surrounding This Turtle When It Should Be Seaweed

Discarded fishing nets can seriously harm animals when they’re left to drift in the oceans. It makes sense too – they’re used to catch sea creatures after all. Imagine having one tying you down the same way this sea turtle does.

This is a gorgeous picture – it’s just sad that the beautiful green is coming at the cost of the turtle’s ability to swim. Hopefully, he was able to escape and find some real seaweed to swim around in elsewhere.

Bear Stuck Head In Plastic Jar And Couldn’t Get It Out

We all know those giant plastic jars that cheese balls and other treats come in. They’re the perfect size to put out hands in without feeling squeezed. Unfortunately, they’re also just the right size for bears and other curious animals to get their heads stuck in.

This bear sadly suffocated because it got caught trying to get a taste of the food waste at the bottom of the jar. Whatever feelings this photo inspires, just make sure you clean up your campsite.