Photographer Justin Hofman was snorkeling along the beautiful coast of Indonesia when the tide swept a mountain of garbage his way.

Photo by Justin Hofman used with permission.

"It was really quite gross," he says. He had been snapping underwater photos of the brilliant coral and different kinds of interesting fish when his field of view was suddenly swamped with trash and sewage.


He continued swimming away from the trash, his camera at the ready, when something tiny caught his eye. Below the wave of garbage, a tiny orange seahorse floated by, its tail wrapped serenely around a pink cotton swab. The juxtaposition struck him, and he quickly snapped a picture.

"This image was a perfect combination of our experiences in Indonesia," he explains. "Amazing wildlife, but terrible pollution."

Photo by Justin Hofman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year used with permission

The photo struck a nerve with everyone who saw it. Hofman submitted the image to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition held by the Natural History Museum in London, where it's currently a finalist.

He also posted it to his own Instagram account, where it quickly went viral, attracting over 16,000 Likes and endless waves of supportive comments.

"It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it," he wrote in the caption. "What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?"

Ocean pollution is a problem that extends far beyond the shores of Indonesia. It's, well, everywhere.

Here's a disgusting thought: Over a billion pounds of garbage enters the ocean from around the world each year. There are masses of plastic and garbage — called "plastic patches" — clumped together floating through the seas, some that are even bigger than some countries.

This isn't a new problem, but it is one that can seem far away, distant and out of sight amidst the endless ocean. Hofman's photo is a reminder that it's anything but. After all, who hasn't used a Q-tip recently? How many of us have thought about where that Q-tip would end up?

There are a lot of smart people coming up with clever ways of cleaning up our oceans, but we can all help by being more responsible with our trash and never, ever littering.

This seahorse "surfing" on a cotton swab might make a fascinating photo, but as Hofman wrote, it'd be a heck of a lot better if it didn't exist at all.

For the first time in its 56-year history, Sports Illustrated will feature a transgender model on its glossy cover. 23-year-old Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio will appear in the July issue, which hits stands early next week. Sampaio wrote on Instagram that she was "excited and honored" to be part of such an iconic issue, adding: "The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way."

A native of Fortaleza, a city in northeastern Brazil, Sampaio has been making history in the fashion world in recent years. She was already the first trans model to make the 2017 cover of Vogue Paris. Scouted while she was a young teen, she quickly made her way onto key runways in her home country. She managed to make an impression in a short time— launching her career at 18 years old—as L'Oréal Paris's first trans model. She hit another milestone last year, when she was the face of Victoria's Secret campaign, breaking barriers as the first trans woman working with the brand.

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