So I met this sea turtle named Lili. Actually, she was introduced to me by a mutual friend during a dive trip in the West Indies recently. Our friend first met Lili (pronounced “Leelee”) when she swam up to him with a plastic bag wrapped around her neck. Current trends in turtle fashions still mainly go to the simple shell look with no accessories, so I can understand her dismay at being forced into that condition. Needless to say, the bag was removed and a friendship immediately made.
Sadly this wasn’t the end of Lili’s plastic perplexities. Not so long later, my diver friend encountered Lili unsuccessfully trying to pass a plastic bag that she’d mistakenly swallowed. While I’m no biologist, I’m pretty sure that there’s no amount of fiber a sea turtle can add to her diet that’s going to pass a plastic bag. The poor creature had managed to only poop out part of it and the rest was stuck. Thankfully, her new diver friend was again there to help her and extracted the bag.
Now, whenever she sees him swimming by in her part of the warm Caribbean waters, she comes to say hello. On our dive, she swam straight up to my face and bumped her beak into my mask, then glided over my head, thumping the bottom of her shell on my forehead. I’m choosing to interpret this as a hearty welcome in turtle speak. Plus, she gets a kick out of swimming through scuba divers’ bubbles.
Lili is lucky. She found a friendly diver right when she needed him – twice. How many turtles don’t? How many turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks, rays, and so many birds – the list of incredible creatures goes on – how many don’t?
Now is the time that we all must pull our heads out of our shells and take another look at our dependence of single-use plastics. Do you really need a plastic bag for whatever you’re buying? It’s not just the straw, it’s the plastic lid you stick it into and the plastic cup. Stop already with plastic water and soda bottles! How many whales have to wash up full of plastic trash before we make some changes?