A Love Of The Outdoors
They shared a love for the peace and love of the outdoors while kayaking. It was their break away from work, traffic, and people. The two friends were in Spain and just off the Gran Canaria coast. That's when they saw something approaching.
They could tell it wasn't a sea creature. They panicked when they spotted something on its back. That wasn't all - something was trailing after it.
A Delicate Balance
Many have experienced the beauty of coral reefs and close-up encounters with their inhabitants through snorkeling and diving. A vast array of marine life is living on the picturesque coast off Grand Canaria.
Each member of the food chain plays a vital role if the reef's ecosystem and its delicate balance. The consequences would be devastating if anything happened to throw it out of balance.
An Unforgettable Experience
As magnificent as the ecosystem is, it is also fragile. Kayakers and snorkelers are often advised to see it alone when they get the chance.
Scuba diving also makes for an unforgettable life experience. The kayaker in this story had a unique experience of his own when his trip led to a strange sight.
A Lucky Photo
This kayaker's story isn't easy to top and was heard about worldwide. Everyone heard about the seal who used an octopus to hit a kayaker in the face.
This photograph was one of the luckiest snapshots ever taken! But the day was more dangerous than it looked and the friends kayaking in Gran Canaria had to be rescued.
Swimming Toward Them
The trip had started just as the two kayakers had imagined, but everything changed when they spotted something in the water. The object swam toward them, and they grew more confused the more they saw of it.
They dismissed the idea of it being a dolphin because of the color, but they shape didn't give them answers either. The kayakers looked at each other when they realized something was strange.
What Was It?
They spent as much time as possible in the water, so they knew much about marine life. But they had no idea what this creature was.
They could barely determine what they were looking at despite the animal being a few feet away. When they saw the strange reddish-brown color, they wondered if they had discovered an animal never seen before.
They realized something was wrong when they noticed it moving strangely. No fish or dolphin, or even jellyfish, would swim like this. It seemed to be taken along with the tide against its will, and that's when they knew something was wrong.
The animal seemed to struggle, and they noticed something else in the water. Something last was trailing after it.
A Race Against Time
The strange creature tried to get to the men, but it took a while to get to them. The kayakers wanted to get a better look and paddled closer.
Once they realized what they saw, they knew they had to do something. The animal was lost amid unusual transparent objects. They had to work fast if they wanted to keep the animal alive. They had no idea how much time they had left.
They Had To Do Something
Whatever was hidden by the mess needed urgent assistance, and only humans could help. It made sense why it had worked so hard to make it through the current. However, it was odd because humans are considered the enemy of sea life.
The men soon realized how dangerous the trailing mass was and what harm it was doing to the creature. There had to be something they could do.
This creature had once been a graceful animal before it became desperate and drowning. It was unheard of for animals to approach humans, but this creature had run out of options.
This creature was lucky to have found two men who adored nature and wanted to protect it. This was its last chance to save its life, and the seconds were ticking.
Fighting against the unforgiving ocean and everything that the sea has thrown its way, the creature gave up its fight, unable to fight any longer. In a last-ditch attempt to help, one of the men leaped out of the kayak and swam a short distance to the mysterious mass.
This had now become a rescue mission. It wasn’t without danger. The man still didn’t know exactly what it was he was trying to save after all!
A Dangerous Action
He wrapped his hands around the creature’s smooth back and began to pull. It was bigger than he had thought, and the portion that was not part of the living being pulled heavily in resistance. He treaded water furiously, just as the creature had been doing for no one knows how long. But he was determined to pull the creature back to the kayak.
He knew full well that his furious splashing was drawing attention, and who knew what other dangerous animals may be lurking close by, ready to take a bite?
Helping As A Team
The other kayaker had now gotten into a position where he could scoop the creature out of the water and only hoped he wouldn’t get bitten while trying to help.
They finally had a chance to look a what the mysterious animal was, and when he realized what he was holding, his heart went out to the poor creature that had been struggling along for so long. This is definitely a moment he’ll tell his grandkids as a bedtime story!
Nearly losing his grip on the slippery creature, he immediately saw what the problem was. It was heavy but very hard and smooth. As soon as he had a firm grip, he hoisted the animal into the boat, and it stopped wriggling.
They both knew exactly what it was now. Hidden in a disguise of plastic bags, shredded, tangled, and wrapped around it, but it was undeniable.
The Biggest Problem
The exhausted mysterious animal was a rather tired sea turtle. There was still a huge problem looming. You see, the kayaker had to struggle for a while because his rescue mission was far from being over.
After he had spent a moment or two assessing just how to disentangle the suddenly still creature from its bonds, the rescuer did something unexpected.
We Did It, We Must Fix It
Somehow the turtle knew it needed help that no one else could give it and that it had come to the right place.
The only people that could save it from that watery grave now were the men on the kayak. The men got to work while the turtle lay still.
Not Many Predators
There are many dangers in the sea, but sea turtles actually have very few natural predators once they have reached a decent size. It’s mostly only sharks and killer whales that can take on the hard shell of a sea turtle.
Still, there is one predator that has started preying on these graceful and endangered creatures.
The Most Common Waste
The turtle had the misfortune of swimming through a net of plastic. That was the strange mass that had been trailing behind it and hindering it.
The mass of plastic weighed it down and entangled its head and legs. It made swimming nearly impossible and forced the turtle to come to one of the greatest enemies of all – people.
Strong Little Pieces
One Kayaker pulled out a knife that he luckily had on him and began the delicate process of untangling the plastic from around the animal.
It was only a few single strands that had tethered around its neck and under its arms. But off of those few pieces hung huge heavy clumps trailing meters behind the animal. Freeing the turtle didn’t take too long, and the unnamed man smiled while he helped.
After inspecting the turtle a few times and turning it this way and that, he was satisfied that he had gotten every last scrap and nothing was embedded in any folds of skin. The kayaker kissed the cooperative turtle on the head before lowering it back into the ocean. News of the rescue made its rounds on the internet, and many users expressed and shared gratitude and praise.
A reader wrote: “God bless that angel. I’m sure if that sea turtle could talk, he would have kissed him right back and thanked him for his kindness.”
The Weather Channel shared the incredible video of the kayakers rescuing the poor turtle on its Facebook page. Since then, it has garnered more than 13 million views.
And the video served as yet another warning to humans to be more careful about where they leave their trash. It also signals a much larger problem in society.
When It All Began
The production of plastic took off in the 1950s and was hailed as an inexpensive and convenient alternative for packaging and storage. Since then, estimates put the amount we’ve produced at around 9.2 billion tons. Unfortunately, a staggering 6.9 billion tons of all plastic produced has become waste.
Scientists were horrified to discover that between 5.3 million and 14 million tonnes make its way into our oceans each year.
Even more troubling news is that it’s unclear just how long it will take for the plastic waste to biodegrade completely. Scientists estimate a range from 450 years to, possibly, never.
Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by ocean plastic. Some are entangled in abandoned fishing nets or discarded six-pack rings, but many more are harmed by ingesting microplastics – pieces of plastic smaller than one-fifth of an inch across.
There are so many pictures and videos of sea turtles getting harmed by plastics. One video shows a sea turtle with a straw up its nose. Another had a plastic fork stuck in the same area.
But foreign substances in the orifices or plastics wrapping around them are not the only things turtles have to deal with when it comes to our waste.
Turtles sometimes mistake plastic bags for the jellyfish they eat and end up ingesting them. Baby turtles have to trudge through garbage-filled beaches to get to the water they will call their home and they are often found with plastic in their digestive systems.
For them, our trash is a death sentence, and they don’t even know how it’s affecting them.
Beluga whales also suffer from the vast amount of plastic in the oceans. Unlike turtles, they probably don’t ingest the plastic on purpose or accidentally. They actually end up with digestive tracts filled with plastic because of their food source.
Fish ingest microplastics, and the Beluga whales that eat those fish pay the price for it.
In 2019, a study conducted by Ocean Wise, the department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Canada, and the northwest community found that all seven Beluga whales they studied had microplastics in them.
The results weren’t only shocking because all the whales were affected, though. It was odd since those whales were located in a remote region of the Arctic.
Yet another big ocean dweller is affected by plastic but unlike the Beluga Whale, Pilot whales swallow the plastic unknowingly. The plastic gets stuck in their digestive systems and the more it builds up the less the whale can eat.
Eventually, they end up starving because of the blockage caused by the plastic.
One such death occurred in Thailand in 2019. A pilot whale became stranded on the coast and researchers spent five days trying to help it. But unfortunately, the whale was no longer able to digest its food.
After its passing, an autopsy revealed that the whale had eighty plastic bags in its stomach.
Seals And Sea Lions
Seals and sea lions are yet another two of the ocean critters affected by the plastic problem. They don’t end up eating the plastic, and they don’t suffer with intestinal blockages like the whales do but they do struggle with the same problem as the turtles.
They often swim into the plastic and it tangles around them.
So Many Cases
There are so many cases of seals and sea lions having plastic around their necks and even though there are people out there who search them out and help not all of them are so lucky.
And the worst part is that even if they cut it off, the animals might end up in the same position because there is just so much plastic in their habitats.
Fish also fall prey to the plastic problem but it isn’t just because they’re ingesting microplastics. For a small creature like a clownfish, a plastic bag looks like a giant floating mountain but that mountain eventually settles.
Sadly, its ultimate destination could be the place the fish calls home. But what if the fish can’t see the plastic?
Ingestion And Worse
In a video posted online you can see two divers exploring a coral reef when they stumble upon a fish trapped in a clear plastic bag. They end up helping the fish to get out of the bag but how many other fish are struggling with the same problem?
How many fish have lost their homes because of a piece of plastic?
Corals are home to a vast variety of ocean creatures but it’s well known that some of the world’s most famous corals are starting to bleach- their slowly dying and we don’t know how to stop it.
The bleaching might not be caused by plastic, but it does have some other effects on corals that could be just as harmful to the coral and the creatures that call it home.
The effects of plastic on corals have been studied in eight different pacific regions and the results are shocking. It turns out that plastic actually makes corals more susceptible to disease development.
But that’s not all that happens. The contact between the plastic and the coral actually physically injures the corals.
Devastation Of Habitats
The physical damage the plastic causes to the coral tissues promotes the infection caused by the bacteria present on the plastic. Thus the coral becomes sicker and sicker the longer the plastic is on it.
Doesn’t that prove that we need to combat the plastic problem before it starts devastating entire habitats?
Piles Of Plastic
Our ocean is currently so filled with plastic that there is a huge pile of trash swirling in the water and it even has a name. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is the name given to the 99,419-mile area that houses the trash.
That’s an area nearly three times the size of France.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The garbage patch is located better Hawaii and California and is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. There are a ton of different items in the garbage patch ranging from household products to fishing nets.
Even though there are efforts to clean up the patch, it’s still causing damage to a wide variety of ocean dwellers on a daily basis.
Be The Change
Are you ready to make just a few small adjustments to your everyday life to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the oceans? Take a reusable bag with you to the grocery store.
It’s estimated that the US alone accounts for 100 billion disposable plastic bags each year. By reusing your shopping bag, this amount could decrease significantly!
Another painless way to reduce plastic waste is to skip straws. Americans throw away 500 million plastic single-use straws every day. That amounts to about 1.5 per person.
Buy stainless steel reusable straws or paper straws – the environment will thank you for it! Lastly, avoid products that contain microbeads and search for natural alternatives. These microbeads make their way into the ocean and get ingested by virtually all marine animals.
Don’t Make Us Endangered
Sea turtles are becoming increasingly at risk of endangerment and are less frequently seen in their natural habitat as a result of pollution. Plastic bags and waste items are often mistaken not only by the age-old inhabitants but by others as well.
So, if you would untangle a turtle in the ocean, then let’s stop putting plastic there too. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.