The video of a sea turtle that had a plastic straw stuck up in its nose, with the turtle bleeding while marine researchers took out the straw, gained much worldwide attention, so much so that the YouTube video has now been viewed more than two and a half million times.
The video eventually led to a fundraising campaign to help the researchers continue their work on marine life.
The team of researchers from Texas A&M University and Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne had gone to Costa Rica for an in-water research trip and found a male Olive Ridley sea turtle with the plastic straw lodged in its nostril.
When they found the turtle, the researchers initially thought what was up in its nostril to be a parasitic worm. With the use of a Swiss Army knife, it turned out to be a plastic straw 10 to 12 cm long.
According to the researchers, the Swiss Army knife was the only tool they had available on their small boat which was not even intended for a stay overnight. Taking the sea turtle from the ocean would have led to a penalty or time in jail. Also, they were a few hours away from the coast anyway, and several hours away from a specialized vet.
For several minutes, the researchers tried to pull out the straw using pliers from the Swiss Army knife. The team said - also obvious in the video - that the turtle "did not enjoy the procedure very much." Prior to the straw incident, the researchers performed a permitted 6-mm skin biopsy from the turtle's shoulder. Such biopsies do not bleed much, but the researchers had to restrain the turtle to take out the straw stuck up its nostril, causing it to bleed more. After about eight minutes, they were finally able to pull out the plastic straw.
After the straw was taken out, the researchers used iodine to disinfect the passageway and observed the turtle for a while. The bleeding stopped just a short while after the procedure, and they released the turtle, hoping it would then be able to breathe freely.
According to the researchers, the sea turtle very likely ate the straw which eventually made its way up its nostril from the palate roof of its mouth, directly connected to the nasal cavity by a long nasopharyngeal duct. Following the plastic straw incident, second year marine biology PhD student Christine Figgener at Texas A&M University who is conducting a research on sea turtles in Costa Rica and the Caribbean in collaboration with Indiana-Purdue's Dr. Nathan J. Robinson, launched a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe to raise funds to pursue further research and protect sea turtles. Out of the goal of $200,000, the campaign has now earned a little over $2,500.