Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril – "NO" TO PLASTIC STRAWS

This is the original video! Filmed by Christine Figgener, marine biologist at Texas A&M University.

***WARNING: Graphic Content & Inappropiate/ Strong Language!***

This video shows graphically why plastic waste is detrimental to marine life, especially single-use plastics (such as straws, which are one of the most redundant items). This turtle suffers from an item that is human-made and used by most of us frequently.

The research team around Christine Figgener (Texas A&M University) found a male Olive Ridley sea turtle during an in-water research trip in Costa Rica.
He had a 10-12 cm PLASTIC STRAW lodged in his nostril and they removed it.


If you would like to support our research and conservation efforts in Costa Rica, please think about donating to our GoFundMe Campaign

The Plastic Pollution Coalition just launched their “No Straw” Campaign in collaboration with us.
Take the No-Straw-Pledge and learn more:

The Story behind the viral video

My research team found a male Olive Ridley sea turtle during an in-water research trip in Costa Rica.
He had a 10-12 cm PLASTIC STRAW lodged in his nostril.

After initially thinking that we are looking at a parasitic worm, and trying to remove it to identify it, we cut a small piece off to investigate further and finally identified what we were REALLY looking at.
After a short debate about what we should do we removed it with the plier of a swiss army knife which was the only tool available on our small boat (not intended for overnight stays), since we were on the ocean, in a developing country, a few hours away from the coast and several hours away from any vet (probably days from any vet specialised in reptiles, not to mention sea turtles) and x-ray machines. Plus, we would have incurred a penalty (up to time in jail) on ourselves by removing the turtle since that is beyond our research permits. He did very obviously not enjoy the procedure very much, but we hope that he is now able to breath more freely.
The blood from the shoulder is from a 6mm skin biopsy we took previously to this event for a genetic study (part of our permitted research), which usually doesn’t bleed much, but which started bleeding while restraining the turtle.
We disinfected the air passageway with iodine and kept the turtle for observation before releasing him back into the wild.
The bleeding stopped pretty much immediately after the removal of the straw, and when we released him, he swam happily away.

The turtle very likely swallowed the straw while ingesting other food items and then either expelled the straw together with the redundant sea water through her nostrils, or regurgitated the straw and it ended up in the wrong passageway. The nasal cavity of sea turtles is connected directly to the palate (roof of the mouth) by a long nasopharyngeal duct.

Copyright: Christine Figgener
To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email [email protected]

If you are interested in following my adventures in the world of marine turtles and ocean conservation, make sure to also follow me on Social Media:

IG – @ocean_amazon
Twitter – @ChrisFiggener
Facebook – @cfiggener

Contact Email: [email protected]

Christine Figgener, Dipl.-Biol. (M.S.)


What are single-use plastic items?

What can you do?

Organise your own beach cleanups!
An amazing plastic clean-up project is the TWO HANDS PROJECT, collect trash and post it on facebook!




  1. I know this is something we should and can prevent, but don’t use a paper straw because “If I don’t, a turtle will die”. There is much more to wildlife conservation than using a paper straw. If you want to make a difference to help wildlife, go do something about it, and don’t sit on Twitter talking about how sad it is, and how others should be making a difference. That’s just hypocrisy. Here are the vsco girls talking on Instagram about how others should be recycling and helping wildlife, but they never really try to do anything about it.

  2. The same thing could happen with a metal straw it would be even worse, assuming the metal straw has been there for at least a month a lot of rust would have collected on the straw. So if a turtle where to get it stuck up its nose Not only would the turtles nose get completely shredded it would also now have tetanus.

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