DISTRESSING footage of a sea turtle having a plastic straw pulled from its nose has prompted the director of a North Wales gastro pub group to ban them from his bars.
Rich Watkin of The Fat Boar in Mold and Wrexham was so horrified by the video circulating on social media that he immediately stopped staff from serving plastic straws in his pubs the following day.
Now customers at the popular eateries are offered a paper straw instead which are more costly to the business but much friendlier to the environment.
The move has seen Rich eradicate 5,000 straws a week from his Yorke Street pub in Wrexham and Chester Street pub in Mold.
Rich said: “I was looking through Facebook and came across the video of this sea turtle, who looked like a wise old character from a Disney film, bleeding and clearly in pain while a group of researchers tried desperately to pull this item which was wedged in to his nose.
“Neither they nor the viewer realised what it was until they pulled it out and it was clearly a plastic, drinking straw.
“I said to my wife Rhiannon immediately that I was going to have to remove them from the bars because it was just horrifying to me that something we might be supplying could end up causing such terrible agony to such a beautiful animal.
“I showed the video to some of my staff the following day and we decided to stop serving them immediately and we now offer customers a paper straw if they would like a straw for their drink.”
General Manager of the Fat Boar in Mold, John Mullock, said there had been a positive reaction from customers with most welcoming the move and happy to accept a paper alternative instead.
John said: “In fact, it has surprised me because most people have not even asked and just accepted we don’t serve straws automatically anymore. It’s been a seamless transition really and made us all realise that customers are not that bothered about having a straw anyway.
“The other upside is that it is actually saving us money because although the paper ones are more expensive, we are probably going through about a tenth of what we were using which is also better because less straws in general are being used.”
The dramatic sea turtle scenes were captured in Costa Rica by Christine Figgener, a PHD student in marine biology at the Texas A&M University in America. She was a member of a research team who were studying the ancient mariners in their native environment.
They had taken a male on board a boat to take tissue samples, measurements and other data to help them understand their mating patterns.
Christine and her colleagues noticed something stuck up the turtle’s nostril and at first, thought it might be a type of parasite living in its nose. Their curiosity turned to horror when they realised it was a plastic straw which they decided to remove in the hope of bringing comfort to the reptile.
In the video, which has been viewed on You Tube more than 21m times, they are seen successfully removing the straw with a pair of pliers and then returning the turtle to the water.
So moved was Christine by the turtle’s plight, that she has gone on with a veterinary colleague at Texas A&M University to develop a specialist turtle first aid kit for researchers to take on board boats which would help them deal better with horrific incidents such as this.
Christine was delighted to hear about the efforts from Rich and his team at The Fat Boar pubs. She said: “I am still very impressed how far the No-Straw movement has spread by now and I am incredibly grateful to people, like Rich and his team, that are spreading the word and try to make a difference.”
It is estimated that around 500m plastic straws are produced globally every day with many of them ending up in a sea of plastic within the world’s oceans with devastating consequences for marine life.