I am sure many of you have seen this sad picture and watched this disturbing viral video of a beautiful sea turtle having a straw removed from his nose. But how many of you know the real story behind the video? If you would like to know please read on....
In 2015, Texas A & M graduate student Christine Figgener traveled to Costa Rica to study ridley sea turtles for her doctoral dissertation. Christine was at sea with a team of scientists who were collecting data on sea turtle mating when they noticed something in the nose of a 77-pound (35-kilogram) male.
WATCH VIDEO HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw
The plastic was lodged in the turtle’s nasal cavity, reaching down into his throat, inhibiting his breathing and sense of smell—a turtle’s most important tool for finding food. It was no doubt messing with the turtle’s orientation and migration, and possibly even hindering his ability to find a mate.
“He might have also had trouble eating,” said Christine.
Figgener and fellow researcher Dr. Nathan J. Robinson aren’t sure how long the sea turtle was swimming around with that thing in his nose. “It didn’t look super new, but who knows".
When Figgener saw the turtle, she thought is it a worm/parasite and then the realisation it could be a plastic straw, “Is it a straw? Don’t tell me it’s a frickin’ straw.” You can hear her German-accented voice of exasperation and determination in the video.
Without their permit for temporal removal of the turtle from its ocean habitat, Figgener said her team could have gone to jail. But after working in Costa Rica for almost a decade, they knew there was no vet around the corner, especially one specialized in reptiles. So they acted, and they filmed it.
After team members extracted a couple of centimetres of the object with pliers and snipped off a sample, they discovered that the wrinkled, brownish object was a plastic drinking straw. Now assured it wasn't a parasite that might have been attached to part of the turtle's brain, the researchers decided to remove the entire four-inch (ten-centimetre) straw.
The team felt it was better to remove the straw immediately since they were hours away from a veterinarian—and there was no guarantee the vet would know how to deal with a sea turtle.
"We couldn't believe what we had just pulled out of that turtle," says Figgener. The team disinfected the sea turtle's nose and watched it to make sure it seemed healthy before releasing it back into the ocean.
After the incidence, Figgener said the team spent the two-hour boat ride back to harbor in silence. “We had no words. We just knew we had to get the video out to the public.”
The team ended up having to leach WiFi from a restaurant. It took eight hours to get the footage uploaded to YouTube, where it just took off. “This video had so much impact because it scared/shocked people out of their oblivion.
“I’m a marine biologist and we stumble across plastic and fishing hooks all the time,” she said. “This is my life; it’s my whole life.” Figgener usually walks the beaches at night. Sadly, “At least a turtle per night has some kind of incident with ocean pollution.”
Plastic straws contribute to the 5.25 trillion pieces of marine trash that have ended up in the ocean, according to a January report.
When I personally watched this video back in December 2018 I realised I personaly needed to do something. My vision was to provide the eco conscious consumer with an alternative - a metal straw. Whilst its not for everyone its a positive step in the right direction to eliminating plastic waste.
Please join me and Christine on our quest to make the oceans a cleaner and safer place for our marine life.