A fish has been snapped ‘smoking’ a cigarette on the ocean floor prompting the photographer to step in.
Steven Kovacs admits that as funny as it is watching a fish appear to enjoy an underwater smoke, he could not resist saving the creature after capturing the action shot.
The image was nominated for the 2021 Ocean Photography Awards after Steven first shared it on Instagram in July.
In reality, rather than having a puff on the cylinder filled with tobacco, the confused fish was gobbling it thinking it was food.
Steven’s photo which he took on Palm Beach, Florida was one of several highlighted by the awards as illustrating the impact of human waste on marine wildlife.
According to IFL Science, the poor creature is a Trachinocephalus myops – more commonly known as a blunt-nose lizardfish which live in the Atlantic Ocean.
The species lays low on the seabed with only their eyes above the sand until what looks like a fish or crustacean passes above.
Steven caught the moment a cigarette was mistaken for prey.
He captioned the snap on July 26 this summer: “Quick smoke break.
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“Actually this was almost a very unfortunate situation. This small Snakefish, Trachinocephalus myops, grabbed a cigarette butt out of the water column drifting by in the current thinking it was a fish and began to swallow it for a meal.
“Even after swallowing more than half of the cigarette, it still hadn’t realized its mistake!! This was one situation I felt obliged to intervene since I can’t imagine it would have ended well for the fish if it finished swallowing its “meal”. Palm Beach, Florida.”
Disheartened replies to the photo included: “This Is how We treat Our Environment.”
“So awful to see this,” another wrote.
A third commented: “Touching and hard-hitting pic.”