We all love sea turtles, when we are snorkeling on vacation in Mexico my girls always get a special thrill as they swim near to a large sea turtle that is munching on the sea grass off our beach. This is why a recent internet story made such an impression on all of us, as it will on you. A field biologist, Christine Figgener and fellow researchers were in the waters off Guanacaste, Costa Rica when they encountered an endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle with what appeared to be a parasitic worm in its nose.

On closer examination the worm turned out to be a plastic straw passing thru the turtle’s nasal cavity and into its throat, a problem that made it difficult for the turtle to breath and smell, thereby inhibiting its ability to find food.

 

 

A Plastic Straw that Carries a Message

The marine biologists needed to think fast and using the tools at hand, in this case a Swiss Army knife they preformed surgery on the spot. The result was the removal of 4″ of plastic straw and a bleeding but hopefully thankful Ridley, plus a filmed video of the impromptu surgery that has gone viral on YouTube with over 7 million views. Obviously there are a lot of viewers that care what happens to sea turtles and maybe this was a teaching moment as to the hazards of using and carelessly discarding plastic straws where they can cause damage to sea life. You can see the video here but be cautioned that it may be upsetting.

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The Problem with Plastic Straws:

Every day we produce over 500,000,000 straws and unfortunately many of these end up in the ocean, where they not only add to the millions of tons of trash polluting our seas but are ingested by huge numbers of seabirds and marine mammals. Sea turtles in particular mistake straws and plastic bags for food often leading to infections and death.

 

Some Easy Steps to Stem the Straws

Save the Ocean One Sip at a Time:
1. Don’t buy plastic straws.
2. Politely request “no straw, please” whenever ordering a drink.
3. Talk with your server or bartender, the manager or owner about making straws available only upon request.
4. If it’s a busy restaurant, leave a card with the bill suggesting that they consider reducing plastic straws, and switching compostable or reusable options. You can download the card here. 

5. Use hashtag #RefusePlasticStraws and #PlasticPollutes in your social media posts.
6. Take the No Straw Please Pledge.
7. Talk to your friends and family and encourage them to take the pledge, also!
8. If you can’t live without a straw? Try using a paper, glass, bamboo, or stainless steel one.  Here’s one of our favorites: SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, Set of 4, Free Cleaning Brush Included
9. If you need disposable, try Aardvark Straws 61780136RET Paper Drinking Straws, Powder Blue Stripe (24 Count Pack)

Blue Ocean Resources:
1. For more information on what you can do to reduce your plastic footprint and protect our blue planet, visit our Ocean Ally, Plastic Pollution Coalition.org.
2. You can support the sea turtle work of Christine Figgener and her team: Join us and make a donation at GoFundMe.
3. Check out the short documentary Straws narrated by Oscar winner Tim Robbins.
4. Support The Last Plastic Straw, a global movement to eliminate plastic drinking straws from our landfills, our streams, our oceans, and our beaches. Simply request “no straw” at bars & restaurants and share your commitment with others.