An "alarming" photo of a bird feeding its chick a cigarette butt on a Florida beach has renewed calls from environmentalists to dispose of cigarettes correctly.
The black skimmer bird was photographed picking the butt up and putting it in the baby's mouth.
Karen Mason, who took the photographs, issued a simple plea as she posted the pictures on Facebook on June 25: "If you smoke, please don't leave your butts behind".
We can't keep on top of it as they just keep coming back.Addam Lockley
Addam Lockley from Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast described the photos as "alarming and saddening".
Mr Lockley said cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world.
They are also the most collected item at every clean up by Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast.
"The acetate (plastic) filters can take many years to decompose," Mr Lockley said.
Coastal Warriors volunteers have collected over 30,000 butts from the Mid-North Coast since the environmental group began in July 2017.
"In our December clean up last year from our butt blitz in the CBD just over 8,000 butts were collected," he said.
"We can't keep on top of it as they just keep coming back."
Mr Lockley said some smokers may not realise that their actions have such a lasting, negative impact on the environment.
"It is hard to pin point why it is such a problem, at the end of the day whoever is smoking that cigarette has the responsibility of disposing of it correctly and that comes down to values of that person's outlook on the environment and everyday life," he said.
Mr Lockley said rubbish collected from the new Seabins at the Port Macquarie marina showed the extent of the problem.
"We have collected cigarette butts in the Seabins frequently and last Sunday (June 30) some of the Coastal Warriors team paddled over to Pelican Island and collected approximately 100 butts from the island," he said.
"Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, turtles and other marine creatures who mistake them for food."
Mr Lockley believes "litter law enforcement policies could be introduced and the revenue could be put back into the community for bins, litter education and community projects".
He also recommended cigarette butt bins in "litter hotspots" in Port Macquarie.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council spokesperson Nateaka Blake said the council is considering this option.
"We are considering the installations of cigarette butt bins in the CBD area and surrounds," she said.