You better think twice next time you carelessly toss your plastic utensils after lunch -- you never know where they could end up.
For this sea turtle, someone's fork would up in a place it never should have -- its nostril. But the Olive Ridley turtle was lucky enough to find itself in the hands of some capable researchers on a beach in Costa Rica.
"As I tested how firmly the object was lodged in its nose; it was clear that it was lodged into her nose very deeply," Nathan Robinson, who works with the sea turtle conservation organization Leatherback Trust, wrote in a blog post. In the video below -- which is not for the squeamish -- Robinson and his team remove the fork from the turtle's nose.
Knowing that they were miles from the nearest vet, Robinson had to make a quick decision about the turtle's predicament. He enlisted the help of two biologists to restrain the turtle and used his pocket knife to carefully extract the fork.
"Shortly afterward, the turtle began to move back to the ocean,"Robinson wrote, "Appearing healthy and active, we watched her as she entered the waves and swam away."
Though this turtle made a swift recovery from its injuries, it's a scene Robinson knows all too well. Earlier this year, he removed a 4-inch plastic straw from then nostril of another Olive Ridley turtle and posted the graphic video to YouTube.
"This fork, like the straw, was probably eaten by the turtle. When she tried to regurgitate it, the fork did not pass out of her mouth but went out her nose," Robinson said in a Facebook post.
Roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic trash end up in our oceans every year, according to a study published in Science earlier this year. If we don't reduce the amount of plastic waste we create, that number will double to 17.5 metric tons per year by 2025.
"I was able to remove the fork but countless other animals are suffering from plastic debris in our oceans," Robinson wrote. "Your efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle will make a difference."
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