While on a research trip in Costa Rica, a team of marine biologists removed a 4-inch plastic straw that was deeply lodged into the nose of an endangered sea turtle (video below).
Christine Figgener, a field biologist who specializes in conversation, was with her colleagues on an in-water research trip in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, when they came upon a male Olive Ridley sea turtle, reports The Telegraph. Upon first glance, the green sea turtle appeared to have a parasitic worm in its nose. After careful consideration, the scientists decided to remove the object themselves.
"We were on the ocean a few hours away from the coast and several hours away from any vet and X-ray machines," Figgener explained. "Plus, we would have incurred a penalty on ourselves by removing the turtle since that is beyond our research permits."
Using a Swiss army knife, the team worked together to pry the object out of the turtle’s nose. After part of it had been extracted, they realized it was a drinking straw, not a parasitic worm.
Because the turtle was bleeding and seemed in pain, the video has received much criticism from online viewers. Others defended the researchers, saying the animal would have died otherwise.
"The bleeding stopped pretty much immediately after the removal of the straw," Figgener said. "He did very obviously not enjoy the procedure very much, but we hope that he is now able to breathe more freely."
The animal was also given time to recover before being released.
"We disinfected the air passageway with iodine and kept the turtle for observation before releasing him back into the wild," Figgener stated.
In the description of an abridged video on The Leatherback Trust YouTube channel, the biologists explained the strategy that would to prevent similar incidents from happening to other sea creatures.
"Please say no to all single-use plastic," it read. "Every plastic straw, plastic bag, or plastic bottle that ends up in the oceans could mean the difference between life or death for any number of marine animals."
Soon after posting the video, the researchers found another Olive Ridley turtle with a plastic fork lodged inside its nose.
WARNING: Graphic video.