This December, I read an article about a group of researchers working at Playa Ostional in Costa Rica. Whilst they were carrying out their research, they were approached by a local who told them of an injured Olive Ridley turtle. She was found with a plastic fork stuck up her nose, clearly distressed and in pain.
The group was able to remove the utensil with a Swiss army knife and the turtle was returned to the ocean apparently without severe injury. However this isn’t the first time this has happened. The same team had previously discovered another turtle with plastic trapped in their nostrils- this time a plastic straw.
It is stories like this that drive me towards a plastic-free lifestyle. We are continuously using these single use, “disposable” cutlery and similar items, merely for 10 minutes of convenience. And as soon as they are thrown in the bin, we give little consideration to what happens to them. Well now you know, they end up in the ocean, injuring wildlife and poisoning the water. These plastic forks and straws are particularly horrendous as they cause such painful, physical damage to the turtle, but there are also objects like plastic bags that cause damage to sealife by animals mistaking them for prey and eating them, leading them to either choke or poisoned.
So what can you do about this? Don’t eat at places that give out plastic cutlery. Or if you have to, take your own cutlery with you. I always leave a metal knife and fork in my bag, just in case I’m heading out, I’m always prepared! Also don’t use things like straws, it is a really pointless piece of plastic that, in all honesty, is the epitome of human laziness (just pick up your glass a bit higher!). And, if I haven’t said it enough, avoid plastic bags, they are such a waste of material and washable cloth bags are much more environmentally friendly.
Below you can find a link to the article and video about the injured Olive Ridley turtle, from the Leatherback Trust: