Straws save coral, eco-warrior grannies, Taylor breaks records, Borneo bird nests, travel anxiety dog-squad

Apr 24, 2024 Episode 178

It’s the last straw for Florida coral, Swiss eco warrior grannies, Taylor breaks records (again), Indonesia’s spitting bird nests and the travel anxiety dog-squad

Episode Transcript


LEELA: We have four nature environment story. Yes four! It’s the last straw for Florida coral, Swiss eco warrior grannies, Indonesia’s spitting bird nests and the travel anxiety dog-squad

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults!  I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt. And…

MAMA: I’m her sidekick and, well, producer, and mother, Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: And this is your one-stop-shop for the most interesting and important news happening around the world.

This week…

Talk about grasping at straws… wait till you hear about the new cages being used to protect and rebuild Florida’s dying coral reef…

Speaking of the environment, you won’t believe what a big group of Swiss grannies did to get their eco-warrior credentials.

Taylor Swift releases her 11 album hear what records she broke doing so.

A different kind of swifty from Indonesia gives new meaning to “spit and sawdust” when it comes to making their nests…

And in Turkey a dog squad are on the prowl in a major airport – find out why!

Let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: This week’s big news story combines two things that you wouldn’t normally think go together.

LEELA: And they are?

MAMA: Saving the coral reef and bubble tea straws.

LEELA: Ahhhhh. I love bubble tea. Yeah usually “saving the environment” has nothing to do with plastic drinking straws. Because we all know they’re horrible for the environment… ending up in landfills, releasing toxic chemicals into water sources…

MAMA: Which fish eat, and we eat fish – so follow the straw.

LEELA: So then… what’s up with saving those fragile marine eco-systems known as coral reefs and big fat bubble-tea straws?

MAMA: Ok, well, the straws I’m talking about aren’t just any bubble tea straws. First of all, you will be happy to hear they’re biodegradable…

LEELA: And that means they evaporate into substances that can be safely absorbed into the ground or even into the air or atmosphere.

MAMA: Correct. So, these biodegradable bubble tea straws are being used by scientists who are growing coral.

LEELA: Wait. Growing coral? Like in a lab?

MAMA: Exactly like that. And for more on this story, let’s head over to the US where our Florida Environment correspondent, Leilani Power is here to give us the full story.

LEELA: Alright then – over to you Lani.

LEILANI: Thanks, you guys.

So, a group of marine biologists right here in Florida have been hard at work on a way to save the coral reefs in Florida.

And believe it or not, one way is to start growing pieces of coral in a lab.

Yep. Then it gets carefully moved into the ocean where it can then fully develop.

As you know, coral is super important to the environment, which is why researchers are trying to replace it.

You see, coral reefs – which look like something out of a fantasy or sci-fi novel with their bright colors and flowing tendrils – are home to 25 percent of the ocean’s marine life!

They protect coastlines from storms and erosion, not to mention they’re a source of food and medicine.

In fact, more than half a billion people depend on the coral reefs around the world.

So, they’re definitely worth saving!

But I know what you’re wondering – ok – so what do biodegradable bubble-tea straws have to do with it?

Well, after growing pieces of coral in a lab, moving them into the open waters to grow, was a bit… challenging.

Not because they’re fragile – but because they’re tasty!

Those little pieces of lab-grown coral are apparently deeeelicious to parrot fish, who like to munch on them like quote-un-quote – “like it’s popcorn!”

And the scientists needed a way to prevent those fish from eating their newly harvested coral… which, by the way, cost about $100 a piece!

So, the researchers put the coral on a little plate, with straws placed vertically, around its edges.

Kinda like a little coral cage, with the bars made of bubble tea straws and no top.

You’d think the fish would be able to grab it from above, right?

But apparently not!

Researchers say parrot fish like to feed with their food in front of them, like us, I guess.
I, for one, certainly would not want to eat while hanging upside-down!

By the time the straws biodegrade, the coral has grown big enough to survive on its own because, luckily, the fish lose interest in more mature coral.

Which does mean there are a bunch of bullies picking on the tiny ones.

In Florida, I’m Leilani Power, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi,

LEELA: Honestly this story sounds really cool. Thank you, Lani!

MAMA: Great story. I especially like that it’s one which brings new meaning to “grasping at straws” to save coral.

[SOURCE: https://dailyprogress.com/news/nation-world/coral-restoration-biodegradable-straws/article_6daad617-18d5-5984-9c49-f9ad2fe5d058.html




LEELA: And now… staying with nature but reporting from a more environmental angle…

ENVIRONMENT – VARIOUS VOICES: “Let’s open the window. Or take a walk. Whether it’s mountains or valleys, forests or jungle, parks or oceans. Find your favorite outdoor spot. Because it’s time to slip into the “climate corner” to talk about environmental challenges. But also, solutions! Climate corner – yeah, I like it here. So do I. Me too! Party in the park, y’all!”

MAMA: Today’s environment story is not surprisingly about some eco warriors, fighting to make the world a better place. Eco warriors who happen to be… Swiss grannies!

LEELA: I’m sorry what? A group of Eco Warrior Grannies? I mean my grans ARE certainly warrior-like, I mean your mom had 4 kids and never a moment to herself working the entire time for others. But eco warriors, I don’t know…

MAMA: I love it! Go grannies – using that wisdom, experience and tough-love to make the world a better place. How? You ask but not hugging trees and singing Koombayha or sneaking into factories and shutting down polluting machines. Nope they’ve used the state, the law and the courts to properly push their cause. Awesome.

LEELA: Well, I know JUST the person to tell us more – our Swiss correspondent, Avani Jade Prasad. Take it away, Avani!

AVANI: Thanks, Leela!

So, yes, we´re calling the group of women behind the ruling “warriors” because they successfully got a top court to recognize just how important saving the environment is.

And that’s no small task!

It all started when some 2000 Swiss women got together and wondered what they could do about how the summer weather was getting hotter and hotter with each passing year.

They felt it was messing up their family life or put another way their basic human rights.

Well, it’s pretty hard to change Mother Nature.

But they did wonder if their own government should be doing a better job protecting people from climate change.

So, they decided to take the case to court.

And guess what?

One of the most important human rights courts in the land, the European Court of Human Rights in Brussels, agreed with the women!

That government lack of action on climate change violated fundamental human rights.

They said governments DO need to do a better job of reducing carbon dioxide emissions…

Like from traffic and factories.

Because people do have a right to live and breathe clean air.

Other eco warriors believe this is an important first step for other countries around the world to also take more steps to reduce emissions.

I sure hope so!

I’m Avani Jade Prasad, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Why thank you very much, Avani! Nice to have you back on the podcast! Like a breath of fresh air, in fact.

[SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2024/apr/09/elderly-swiss-activists-win-historic-climate-court-ruling-video



MAMA: And now we need a little bit of this…

ACE STING – LEELA/MAMA: “Now it’s the ace part of our podcast: Arts, Culture and Entertainment. Darling.”

 MAMA: And when we say entertainment, we’re talking about the best entertainer in the world according to some people I know.

LEELA: Not just me. Let’s ask the bot. Alexa, who is the most famous female music artist in the world?

ALEXA: The most famous female music artist in the world by popular choice is Taylor Swift.

MAMA: Oh, wow, and AI never get it wrong… still. I’ll grant you that Swift lady is pretty famous and prolific.

LEELA: As in producing a LOT.

MAMA: Or to be precise, something present in large quantity or number.

LEELA: Yeah, she’s only 34-years-old and has already produced 11 albums, including 4 that she had to rerecord because her old and awful record label didn’t let her have the rights to her first recorded albums.

MAMA: But because she wrote all those songs, she retains the right to the lyrics and music. Just not the old recordings. So, she rerecorded them.

LEELA: And as if that’s not enough – she’s come out with a new, AMAZING (if I do say so myself) album called, “The Tortured Poets Department” or TTPD as we fans like to say. And once again broken records with this new work. The album sold 1.4 million copies on its first day of release in the US! A nd tons for the presale.

[SOURCE: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/taylor-swift-new-album-tortured-poets-department


NATURE STING–VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s the call of nature. The call of nature. It’s the call of nature. Get on your safari suite. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. Squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarine. Because Mother Nature is calling. Nature. Mother Nature is calling!”

MAMA: So, as we’ve just heard, there are plenty of Swifties in the world. Aheem. But do you know what a swiftlet is?

LEELA: Oh, now you’ve got me… A cool new Taylor Swift concert T-shirt, like a vest?

MAMA: Ah, no. A swiftlet is actually a type of bird that lives in Borneo in Indonesia – as in east of here in India. Other side of India.

LEELA: Yeah, I know, Indonesia. It’s that massive archipelago – which is a chain or group of islands diagonally in between Thailand and Australia.

MAMA: Exactly. And its beautiful island of Borneo – which is the third largest in the world, by the way – has swiftlets which have a curious way of making their nests.

LEELA: Tell me more.

MAMA: They use their saliva – yep!

LEELA: What?

MAMA: That’s right – they make their nests using that gooey stuff in your mouth! Well, the saliva in their mouths to be clear. Our new South-East Asia correspondent Aarav Tewari Gusain – who’s in nearby Singapore has the story.

LEELA: Well, welcome on board, Aarav. Tell us more…

AARAV: Thanks, Leela!

You won’t believe this, but these nests that you can eat are very special in China. People use them to make a soup, that many Chinese believe is good for their health.

Farmers in Borneo want to cash in on that.

And so, they’ve been building bird houses for the swiftlets to make loads of nests.

The houses look a bit like giant concrete boxes. They don’t have windows, so they feel like caves that the birds usually make nests in.

The problem is – swiftlets are like picky guests at a fancy hotel they want everything to be clean, safe and cool inside. They don’t like bugs or spiders. They even like pools to take a bath!

But the farmers say the swiftlets don’t come to visit as often as they used to.

Here’s why:

We’ve all heard about climate change where the planet is warming up and icebergs are melting.

One of the reasons temperatures are rising is because trees are getting cut down.

In Indonesia, entire rainforests are getting cut down to make way for palm oil fields.

The warmer climate, and lack of food from the forest means the birds don’t want to make as many nests.

For now, the farmers are planting other crops like avocados and durians.

They hope the swiftlets will come back to their bird houses one day and make their edible nests once again.

In Singapore I’m Aarav Tewari Gusain, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: OMG – you are adorable, Aarav! Thank you for that story!

MAMA: Yes, you’ve somehow made a story about spitting swiftlets – not to be confused with Swifties – sound totally darling!

[SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/02/world/asia/indonesia-borneo-birdnest-soup.html?searchResultPosition=1


LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for us this week.

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

MAMA: Today’s oddball is about a group of special dogs at an airport in Turkey.

LEELA: Dogs at the airport? I know some people travel with dogs, so seeing them at airports isn’t that unusual.

MAMA:  And of course, police at airports also sometimes use a team of K-9 dogs to help them sniff out illegal things people aren’t supposed to be travelling with…

But no, I’m talking about one airport in the country of Turkey – which is in the middle of Europe and the Middle East – that has a team of dogs for an entirely different reason…

LEELA: Which is?

MAMA: Well – travel stress, of course!

LEELA: Oh, that sounds nice! I find travel, even at the best time, is a little stressful. I mean the crowds, the rushing about, making sure you’re not late, never mind, you know, flying through the air in a tin can and all that.

MAMA: Well, the group of dogs in today’s story work to help people reduce some of that kind of anxiety at an Istanbul Airport.

LEELA: How do they do that?

MAMA: The five new fluffy airport employees are walked around on a leash throughout the terminals, ready to offer up sloppy kisses and get belly rubs from anyone who needs some puppy therapy.

LEELA: Awww can we go to Istanbul? Although I do have one suggestion, that probably could be useful to the Istanbul Airport.

MAMA: And what might that be?

LEELA: Maby brings in some cats! You know for the people who don’t want slobber on their clothes? Don’t judge, I am a proud cat person.

MAMA: I know my dear. And I think that’s a perrrrfect idea … get it?

LEELA: Yes I’m used to..


FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Scientists in Florida resort to using biodegradable bubble-tea straws to stop small fish from nibbling at their precious lab-grown coral when it’s placed into the ocean. What is biodegradable?
Something that can evaporate into substances that can be safely absorbed into the ground or even into the air or atmosphere.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – And what are the names of these little fish that like to eat Florida baby coral like it’s “popcorn?”

Parrot fish

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – Coral reefs are precious because they provide home to what percent of marine life?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – Superstar Taylor Swift proves she’s a prolific popstar as the 34-year-old releases her 11th album – a double album in fact – breaking sales and streaming records. What does prolific mean?

To produce a lot or something present in a large number or quantity

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – People in Indonesia make concrete bird houses to lure birds who build their nests with saliva, which people in China love to eat. What are these birds called?


And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and take this quiz online in your own time!

LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi! But first…

MAMA: We have a very special review to read out, which came into our email. From

Bill Youngman who wrote, “Greetings from Seattle, WA, USA. My granddaughter and I enjoy your podcast on her drive to school. Many thanks!”

LEELA: Oh! I love that thank you.

MAMA: And guess how it’s signed?


MAMA: Bill and Lila. Or Lyla – depending on how she says it! Cool name either way!

LEELA: Oh, yeah! Super cool name. If I do say so myself!


LEELA: So, what about you? Why don’t you read us a review?

MAMA: We’ll read it out loud if you do! Plus, it really helps others find us – so go on, spread the curiosity about the world!

LEELA: Also, thanks this week – as ever – to our co-producer, Julie Noce, and our assistant producer, Jyoti Chauhan.

MAMA: And to the amazing journalist Sue Tewari who wrote her son’s, Aarav’s, debut story about the Borneo bird!

LEELA: And thank YOU for listening! We wouldn’t be here without you! Until next time – stay curious!