Turtle's body after growing up with plastic ring around it
Turtle growing against all odds
Hoax or Fact:
A disturbing picture of a Turtle shared often online purports to show that the poor creature has grown into an odd, deformed shape after being trapped in a Plastic ring around its waist. Yes, it's a fact, the Snapping Turtle named after actress Mae West grew against all odds.
Story of Mae West Turtle
Seen in the picture is actually a Snapping Turtle with a tight Plastic Milk Jug Ring trapped around its body, which was discovered in a New Orleans drainage canal by a young boy back in 1998. Apparently, the turtle named Mae West swam into the ring as a baby, and grew around it. Some stories online have misinterpreted the plastic ring as a rubber band. Because of her stunted size and mobility issues, the turtle was unlikely to survive in the wild, so Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, the cofounder and executive director of 5 Gyres Institute (Ocean conservation non-profit organization) took care of it, and later facilitated her cross-country move to STAR Eco Station in Los Angeles. The first video shows them with the Turtle Mae West, years after removing the plastic ring. In a Facebook post in July 2015 STAR Eco Station added few pictures of the turtle to show it grew better over time, describing it as having distinctive hourglass figure. Mae West was put on display to help educate people about the dangers of plastic.
Another Case, Peanut Turtle
As you can see in last few pictures of Image Gallery, there's another similar case of deformed Turtle, which was discovered in 1980s. The unfortunate baby Red-eared slider Turtle named Peanut (because of its body shape), became entangled in a plastic ring of a six-pack holder held fast around her middle, and continued to grow becoming deformed. Peanut turtle was rescued in 1993, cut free from her restraint and has grown well over years with Missouri Department of Conservation.
The disturbing picture of Mae West turtle with plastic ring around its middle was shared by Charles Moore in a TED show (second video in this article) about the Great Pacific plastic trash island, saying retainer rings for the (plastic) caps also have consequences for the aquatic animals. The aforementioned two examples of deformed turtles show how devastating harm a small piece of plastic can do to marine wildlife. Throwaway plastics affect millions of animals every year (plastic pollution), as they eat or get entangled in them. Lot of plastic items are often found inside stomachs of aquatic animals and seabirds, which at times also lead to their death. A certain call to reduce the usage of throw away plastic to protect marine life and environment in general.