+

On Dec. 11, 2016, animal lovers sat in front of their TVs, devastated at what they saw on the screens in front of them.

It had to do with baby turtles.

"Planet Earth II" — the sequel to BBC's 2006 mega-hit series "Planet Earth" — had documented Hawksbill turtle hatchlings in Barbados.

The series, which aired in the U.K. and is coming to the BBC America this January, culminated in an episode focused on how cities are affecting animal populations around the world.


The Hawksbill turtle — a critically endangered species — was one of the featured creatures. And it was really tough to watch.

The series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, explained what happens when these hatchlings are born.

When Hawksbill turtles hatch from their eggs at night, their immediate instinct is to go toward the brightest horizon, which — if humans didn't exist — would lead them to the sea (and safety).

This is a Hawksbill turtle hatchling, born in a Jakarta breeding center in 2010. Photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images.

But humans do exist. And our expanding societies have had a dramatic effect on this crucial point in the hatchlings' lives.

As cities continue to sprout up on seashores, their bright lights complicate those first few moments in a hatchling's life. Instead of being drawn toward the sea, hatchlings are drawn toward the artificial lights of the city. This isn't good.

Without human interference, Hawksbill turtles already have a small chance of surviving long-term, according to Carla Daniel, deputy field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project. But with this added barrier stopping them from safely reaching the ocean, baby turtles are getting "crushed in the road [or] lost forever in drains," among other not-so-happy endings, on their accidental journeys into the city.

It was a big wake-up call for many distraught "Planet Earth II" viewers.

The outcry among upset viewers spurred responses from the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, which partnered with the BBC during production.

"We know that watching the footage on the 'Cities' episode of 'Planet Earth II' last night was emotional and heartbreaking," the group wrote on its Facebook page. "While it does portray what thousands of hatchlings face every year, we want to reassure you that we do our very best to ensure that as many hatchlings as possible are rescued and no hatchling is ever left behind!"

Baby turtles that were hatched at a conservation center in West Sumatra are released into the ocean. Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images.

The "Planet Earth II" team also assured viewers on Twitter that its film crew did, in fact, break protocol and saved any turtles it spotted.

Typically, the crew does everything it can not to engage or disrupt wildlife while filming, but — because this particular tragedy was manmade — they decided to intervene.

The hatchlings' fatal endings served as a learning moment for viewers on the unintended consequences of our modern existence as humans.

Many of our behaviors and technologies have surprising consequences to other species. Light pollution is a great example.

It doesn't just affect baby turtles, after all.

While light pollution may not seem as harmful as, say, pumping pollution into the air or cutting down huge swaths of trees, artificial lighting is responsible for millions of bird deaths each year, according to the International Dark Sky Association. Many birds use moonlight and starlight to hunt and migrate, and bright city lights can throw them off course. Birds may arrive in a new region too early or too late, for instance, and miss the climate conditions they need to survive there.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Artificial lighting, which unintentionally draws insects, may create a "fatal attraction" between the tiny creatures and our manmade structures as well. Although insects seem like a nuisance to us, they're often the foundation of the food web in a given habitat. A decline in Insect population can affect whole ecosystems.  

The artificial light problem may seem unconquerable for many devastated "Planet Earth II" viewers. But the last thing we should do is give up.

Take it from Carla Daniel.

“There are many times that everything feels kind of pointless," she explained candidly of the enormous problem of hatchling deaths. "'What's the point in doing this?' This is one of those things where we kind of all have to hold hands and come together and agree to make a difference.”

“If there was one, single thing that was necessary for change, [it's] for you to get up," she noted. "Go out of your house and do something [about it]."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

Keep ReadingShow less