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Thomas the Tortoise: I keep getting stuck in plastic beer can holders, what can I do?

I’m sorry to hear that Thomas, we’ve seen a big increase in letters like yours over the past few years.

The problem is humans are dumping so much waste into the oceans, and on land as well, we animals are inevitably getting caught – only last week my brother thought he had caught a mouse for his new born chicks, only to find out it was a nylon sock when he brought it back to the nest. He said he’d never seen such disappointment on his chicks faces!

Agony Owl helps Tortoise

It’s difficult to avoid, but evolution can help; you need to work on adapting your eyes to spot plastics in the water so you can avoid them. Find some plastic (in a shape you can’t get caught in!) and dive down in the water with it, swim away, and then come back slowly, looking carefully to spot it.

The light will move through it a bit differently to the water, so you can train your eyes to spot it. You won’t see results immediately, but stick at it and your eyes will adjust, and then you can teach other tortoises the technique as well.

You might also want to join the Swim4Change campaign taking place later this month – a whole plethora of fish and marine mammals are swimming on New York, invading the harbour to raise awareness of the threat to the oceans and demand Humans behave better. Visit to find out more and use #getdrasticonplastic to join in the conversation on social media.


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