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Water Polo Team Rescued From Straws Stuck in Their Noses

The Blodgett freshwater amphibians are prized for their stunningly complex social behaviors.

The New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program received a distress call Tuesday when a school of water polo players were spotted suffering from straws stuck in their noses and other entangling plastic. The rescue operation, initiated by a family enjoying a day trip to Blodgett Estuary, was a success, but a grim reminder of how wanton plastic consumption can destroy the lives of our precious, precious marine life.

The operation was headed by Aquarium Director Bethany Wooldridge. Visiting her at the scene of the call, the water polo players could be still heard cooing in distress. “Yo, what the fuck, I’m not a fuckin’ turtle,” said one, clearly still befuddled from the experience. Wooldridge was surprised when she received the call, because these kinds of rescue crises often occur further out in the sea, very rarely affecting fresh or brackish water organisms upriver. To her, it is only a sign of a broader problem of plastic pollution continuing to accelerate, despite well-intentioned local and federal regulations limiting use of plastic straws and bags.

According to the rescue report, once the operation was over, the Rescue Program decided it was unsafe to release the water polo team back into the hazardous waters near Blodgett, so the only options were relocation or rehabilitation. All were deemed fit for relocation except for one water polo player the volunteers comically nicknamed “Hot Rod”, for the “hot rod red” Speedo they found him wrapped in. Rehabilitation will be a lengthy process, with treatment lasting several months to two years socializing amongst other aquatic animals in the New England Aquarium’s facilities.

The rest of the players were driven up to clearer waters near the easterly Watertown. Upon taking their first awkward steps onto the sooty riverbank, they looked unsure of their new home, but grateful to be safe and healthy. “I am so fucking confused. I have a paper to write, can you just bring me back to Kirkland?” one warmly communicated to the rescuers. Unfortunately, the players had yet to resume the uniquely complex social behavior involving manipulation of nets and balls marine biologists had prided the Charles River water polo player population upon displaying. Likely, according to the report, a sign that normalcy would only come with the healer of all things: time.

In charming footage of the release, Wooldridge flashed a smile as she tugged one last sheet of netting from a player’s shoulder and headed back to the van. “All in a day’s work,” she quipped. As the sun set on the day, the rescue team surely had much to think about. They could only accomplish so much, but band-aids over a gaping wound on the ocean’s marine life inflicted by decades of neglect. “It’s up to us, yes, all of us, to stop it at the source - if not for our sakes, for theirs,” shared a volunteer. Wise words indeed.

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