Tag Archives: environment

Saving Li’l Turtles

I went to a Travel Massive event at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Tuesday. It’s a pretty spectacular place at night. In fact, it’s a pretty spectacular place always, but somehow being there after hours and having it all to ourselves added a certain thrill.

I’m always enthralled by how leggy all those marine creatures are. Enormous, eight-legged crabs, luminescent jelly fish trailing multiple tentacles and frills, shrimps with legs and feelers and stalky eyes. They’re like animals from a Dr Seuss story. The silvery schools, the hugging starfishes, the Sea Horses! Too lovely.

But this blog isn’t about all the leggy creatures, this is about something I learnt last night that every person living on, or visiting, the Cape coast should know. Jenni Leibbrandt, of the aquarium, watched over by the gorgeous turtle in the enormous tank behind her (it was almost as if she was checking that it was all factual) explained about tiny turtles washed up on the shores around the Cape.

You see I had, mistakenly I now realise, thought that if I was ever lucky enough to find a baby turtle (who, I think, should be called turtlets) washed up on the shore, I should leave the li’l thing alone, or help it back into the sea.


Those little critters are cold. Cape Town’s waters don’t suit their sunny temperaments and they’ve only landed up there because they got swept all the way from KwaZulu Natal by the wrong current. So, no, this is one occasion where ‘leave nature alone’ doesn’t apply.

Here, Jenni explained, one needs to help the little guy by putting him in a dry box and taking him straight to the aquarium (or calling them) and they’ll take it from there, as part of their turtle rehab programme.

Tell your friends, tell your children, and tell them to tell their friends. Those little turtles don’t deserve to have chattering lips (beaks?) and cold flippers.

Look at June go:


We Need To Talk About Straws

I’m tetraplegic. That is not something I often talk about in my writings because, more often than not, it has nothing to do with my everyday goings-on. Actually, no, that sentence is incorrect. It, obviously affects everything I do, but in most cases, it’s in the most uninteresting and un-writing-worthy way. I’m straying, though. the point I was making is that, well, I’m going to use it today to give more sway to my argument against straws.

My tetraplegia means that, while I can move my wrists up and down, I cannot move my fingers. Over the past twenty years I have perfected the balancing act of holding a glass or can using gravity and the paw-like action that paralysed fingers naturally take on. If, however, I’m lying down, gravity is not on my side, so I use a water bottle instead. Very occasionally, when drinking something that requires a glass, like raspberry cordial, or something equally beautiful, I will use a straw. I will then wash that straw, let it dry, and use it again next time.

In the same way, very small children, who still use sippy cups at home but want to feel a little grown-up at a restaurant, may need a straw. Or stroke patients, or people who have balance issues. And for all of them, I say go for it, that’s what things like straws are for: to make life easier. But they should only be used in those scenarios.

And there I, finally, get to my point. All you perfectly able people (and children) sucking your liquids through plastic straws, stop! All that plastic is flowing into the sea and straws are getting stuck in turtle’s nostrils and polluting the oceans and just doing bad stuff. And it’s completely unnecessary.

The other day I saw an entire table of late-teens get gorgeous-looking, brightly-coloured cocktails, each with not one, but three straws. Presumably so that they could guzzle them down quicker, knowing teens. I wanted to shout across the tables: “Kids! Kids! You know what? it’s even quicker if you pick the glass up and drink it through your lips. You know those things that were specificaly designed to make it possible for you to sip stuff without it falling down your fronts? Those.”

But this isn’t a rant aimed at teens, it’s aimed at everybody. When did we all forget how to pick up a glass and drink with our lips? How come there’s not a huge move toward not giving a straw with every drink served at a restaurant?

An argument from a friend, whose poor ear I was chewing off about the issue, was hygeine. She was worried about the germs she might get off the rim of her glass. This, after she’d just taken the escalator and held onto the sliding bannister-filled-with-tiny-organisms-from-the-hundreds-of-people-doing-the-same-before-her. Worried about germs? Wipe the rim with your serviette.

Because, as I said before, that straw that you’re using, because you’re too lazy to pick up your own glass and sip with your own mouth, is going to land up in the sea. And it may very well hurt or kill the lovely creatures who live there and aren’t as ‘lucky’ as the guy below, who was found and helped. I put lucky in apostrophes there, because, if you watch this video, you’ll see how bloody awful it was for the poor critter. He BLEEDS. Not to mention how sore he must have been with it lodged there.

Stop with the straws. Just, stop.