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Marine Biologist Whose Video Showed Straw Being Removed From Turtle Has Another Message For The World

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Marine Biologist Whose Video Showed Straw Being Removed From Turtle Has Another Message For The World

A marine biologist whose shocking video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril has another message for the world as she fights to protect the endangered species.

In 2015, Christine Figgener’s viral video, which has garnered well over a 100 million views on YouTube, sparked a global movement to have the single-use plastic items banned.

And now the 38-year-old, along with her husband Andre Castillo MacCarthy, is back in the public eye working to protect nesting sea turtles and their eggs where they live in Costa Rica.

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Christine, who is originally from Germany, explained: "These are beautiful animals who are up against a lot just to survive. We are working to protect the sea turtles as they now face extinction."

Even without the threat of plastic pollution, turtles struggle to survive and only about one in 1,000 baby sea turtles makes it to adulthood, according to Christine.

Even then, she explained that they risk becoming the bycatch of fishermen, or getting poached for their eggs, meat, and shells.

Raising awareness about their species, she shared: "There are a number of factors that can harm the sea turtle population including poaching, pollution, rising sea levels and oil spills.

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"Me and my team of local research assistants patrol nesting beaches every night, rain or shine, to protect nesting females and their eggs from poachers.

The turtles are tagged so that Christine’s team can track them. Credit: PA
The turtles are tagged so that Christine’s team can track them. Credit: PA

"We also relocate the nests to safer spots, so they have a chance of incubating full-term and not getting eroded, as we have problems with rising sea levels on our beach."

Since 2019, Christine has received help through Milkywire, an environmental impact platform which assists small organisations to get funds.

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She said: "The platform works in a way so that people can support environmentalists monthly, like a subscription, and in return I put out content for them, so they can see what I’m working on and where the money is going.

"It’s become vital in order for us to keep our work going. Often we don’t know how we’re going to pay for the following year’s work, so the people who support me through Milkywire have given us some financial stability.

She said that only one in 1,000 baby sea turtles makes it to adulthood. Credit: PA
She said that only one in 1,000 baby sea turtles makes it to adulthood. Credit: PA

"I’m able to get local assistants and much-needed equipment and tools to keep nesting sea turtles and their babies safe and to learn more about their behaviour out at sea."

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Now, Christine is hopeful that her team’s hard work will mean generations of sea turtles will continue to roam our oceans for years to come.

Nina Siemiatkowski, CEO and founder of environmental impact platform Milkywire, sees the importance of work like Christina’s, a locally-rooted organisation, and said they ‘are essential in the fight to tackle our environmental crisis’. 

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Animals

Lisa McLoughlin
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