Sea turtle has excruciating operation to remove plastic straw from its nostril
by Sophia Heath
A video has been released by a group of marine biologists showing a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril to demonstrate the dangers of dumping plastic waste in the oceans.
The scientists were taking part in a research trip in Guanacaste, Costa Rica when they came across the male Olive Ridley sea turtle, which had a 10-12cm plastic straw stuck in its nostril. Initially they thought it was a parasitic worm and decided to try and remove it using a Swiss army knife they had on the boat.
"We were on the ocean a few hours away from the coast and several hours away from any vet and x-ray machines,” said Christine Figgener, a field biologist who filmed the operation.
“Plus, we would have incurred a penalty on ourselves by removing the turtle since that is beyond our research permits."
It was only once they were midway through the operation that they realised that it was actually a straw rather than a worm.
After the video was released there was some criticism that the procedure was actually cruel and could have been detrimental to the turtle. However, the scientists have stood by their decision.
Plastic and other waste is considered to be one of the biggest threats to the world's oceans. As well as incidents like this, rubbish dumped in the sea can also trap turtles.
A video showing two men rescuing a sea turtle that had become trapped in discarded netting 30 miles off the Bahamian shore last week was watched by more than 400,000 people.
“He was totally enveloped around his neck, his left flipper or fin or whatever you call it was cocked up here, and it was all over his torso,” said David Collins, who helped to rescue the turtle.
“When I first got to him out in the weed, it freaked him out. He opened his mouth like he was going to try and get in my face. When he realised we were there to help, he was just like, ‘Have at it guys, set me free.’”
Both of the turtles in these videos had lucky escapes but the WWF reports that nearly all species of sea turtle are endangered, both because of environmental concerns and over-exploitation.