The Final Straw…

In this disturbing video, marine biologists remove plastic from a sea turtle’s nostril.

August 17, 2015

If the plastic-eating plankton didn’t draw your attention to how harmful ocean trash is to marine life, this certainly will: Last week, Christine Figgener posted a video of herself and fellow marine biologist Nathan Robinson removing a plastic drinking straw from a sea turtle’s nostril.

The pair originally thought they were relieving the poor turtle of a parasitic worm, but as the upsetting video progresses, they’re shocked to discover that the object is, in fact, human-made. The Washington Post reports that after Figgener’s camera battery died, “antiseptic was applied and the turtle was deemed ‘fit, healthy, and strong,’ and released back into the ocean.”

This horrifying incident had a happy ending, but it was the last straw, so to speak, for many of the more than 2.5 million viewers who have watched the video so far and contacted Figgener to ask how they can help—she has since set up a GoFundMe campaign for those who want to support her research on sea turtle conservation. With up to 14 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year, sea life is going to need all the help it can get. 

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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