These shocking photographs show plastic in the stomach of a lobster which was being prepared for a posh meal in Edinburgh.
Chef Claudia Escobar spotted the orange rubber tubing inside a lobster caught in a creel in the Firth of Forth, between Granton beach and Newhaven Harbour.
The private chef discovered the crustacean’s stomach was full of plastic as she prepared it for a ‘blue lobster’ dish - using raw flesh from the expensive seafood.
Environmentalists believe it is a shocking insight into the problem of plastic pollution in Britain.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of the creature’s stomach was full of rubber tubing, which resembles that which is used in Bunsen burner gas tubes.
Lobsters are often served whole in restaurants, and Ms Escobar said she had never seen anything like it before in all her years working in kitchens.
Ms Escobar, who is based in Leith, Edinburgh but works all over Scotland, said: “I put the lobster to sleep and cut it open to make a blue lobster dish.
“It was a trial dish, so not for customers.
“When I saw the rubber tubing I was shocked.
“I work a lot with lobsters and have never seen anything like it.
“Maybe the lobster ate it thinking it was a mussel.”
The tubing appeared to be in three sections, and Ms Escobar immediately disposed of it.
She makes a concerted effort to avoid using plastic while cooking, using paper where possible rather than cling film.
Ms Escobar said: “We live really quickly, we chuck everything in the bin, but we should care.
“We are floating in plastic, basically.
“I’ve been cooking lobsters lots since then and I’ve never seen anything like it since.
“Maybe it was one freak incident.”
Lobsters mainly eat crabs, mussels and fish heads but Ms Escobar believes the vibrant orange colour could have led it to mistake the plastic for sealife.
She added: “It was bought from a local fishmonger - I get access to the best produce in Scotland.”
Bryce Stewart, lecturer in Marine Ecology at the University of York, said: “I was very surprised.
“We do know that sometimes lobsters are found with very small pieces of plastic in their stomachs.
“My first thought was it was probably the pieces of rubber which is used to bind the claws together, but apparently it is not.
“It is very unusual.
“As to why the lobster would have eaten it, we can only guess.
“Possibly it was caught on something else it was eating.
“I have never seen anything like it - normally you would need to use a microscope to see the plastic it had ingested.
“That’s not fantastic either - but to see something like this is shocking.
“It is a one-off at this stage but if it starts to become more common then it is very worrying.”
Founder of conservation campaign Blue Planet Society, John Hourston, said: “We know everything from plankton to whales ingest plastic, but this is the first time I’ve seen a lobster actually eating it.
“It appears that no part of the marine food web is untouched by the huge amount of trash we dump into the world’s ocean.”
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