Shark Gets Frisbee Stuck on Its Head

A shark found with a frisbee stuck on its head has been rescued by staff at an aquarium in Australia.

Images posted to Facebook by the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and liked by hundreds of users on the social media site showed what they said was wobbegong shark. Images posted by the aquarium showed the shark swimming in shallow water, the brightly colored frisbee stuck firmly around its neck.

Like elsewhere in the world, plastic pollution and debris is considered a serious problem in Australian waters.

A citizen science project study examining plastic debris pollution in the oceans surrounding Australia published in the Science of the Total Environment journal found that plastics were the dominant material of debris on Australia's beaches.

The study, which examined 10 years of data on the issue across Australia, found that the land-sourced items made up 48 per cent of plastic debris, and sea-sourced items seven per cent.

Hard plastic were the most common form of plastic debris nationally.

The study also said that Australia's east coast, where the wobbegong shark was found stuck in the frisbee, was the most severely impacted coastline for plastic pollution.

The team at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium said they had successfully rescued the shark after it was found in Cabbage Tree Bay. Accompanying images posted to Facebook by the aquarium showed a team of divers in wet suits and diving gear holding the frisbee, which had seemingly been cut free from the shark and then removed from the water.

Wobbegong sharks, of which there are 12 species, are native to the waters around Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

They typically inhabit shallow waters and spend much of their time close to the ocean floor where they catch their prey. The animals have distinctive lobes attached to their mouths that can be used as bait to attract unsuspecting prey, and can also offer camouflage for the animals.

Spotted wobbegongs are thought to be endemic to Australia and feed on a variety of prey including fish, crayfish, octopuses and crabs.

The World Wildlife Fund said that each person in Australia uses an average of 130kg (286lb) of plastic each year, with around 12 per cent of this being recycled.

Stock image of spotted wobbegong shark
Stock image of spotted wobbegong shark. Aquarium staff in Sydney found one of the animals stuck with a plastic frisbee around its neck amid a serious plastic pollution problem in the country's waters. Nigel Marsh/Getty Images