An extraordinary series of photographs by a Richardson resident has vividly illustrated the dangers of the rubbish going into Canberra's lakes.
As depicted in the images, a pelican comes dangerously close to swallowing a large plastic bottle as it grapples with the object and tries several times to get it in its beak and down into its belly.
While the final frame suggests the bottle did get in, the photographer is adamant that it didn't go down.
Richardson resident Kym Bradley took the amazing pictures last week on Isabella Pond, off Drakeford Drive, which feeds into Lake Tuggeranong. The bottle had been floating in the pond.
''Luckily, it did not swallow it or the results would have been tragic,'' Ms Bradley said.
''I just think people need to be aware of the danger to wildlife of all the rubbish that goes into the lake systems, especially after rain.''
Southern ACT Catchment Group Waterwatch co-ordinator Martin Lind was shocked but not surprised by the photographs.
''We do lots of education programs with kids about the effect of rubbish in the lakes on wildlife and tend to focus on the slow release of toxins from the gradual breakdown of things like bottles, but this is quite a graphic example of the immediate danger,'' Mr Lind said.
Rubbish in the lakes was ''just a huge problem''. Birds swallowed polystyrene balls. They collected ties from bags and other rubbish to nest in, only for them or their chicks to get tangled up in. They got caught in or swallowed plastic rings from bottles.
''Anyone interested in wanting to solve the problem should know there is a brand new urban land-care group and its focus is on Lake Tuggeranong,'' Mr Lind said.
For more details on the group, call Mr Lind on 6296 6400.