When you first see this clump of barnacles, it’s hard to believe there’s a living creature under there. But the rescuers realize it’s a sea turtle that has been adrift in the ocean and needs help.
Organisms living on the outside of the turtle (“ectoparasites”) are barnacles–tiny marine crustaceans with an external shell that attach themselves to a surface. They are grayish white in color, and while they resemble snails, they actually a form of crab.
Barnacles are not parasites themselves but can become parasitic and harmful if there are too many. They are generally beneficial to the overall marine environment but they can attach themselves to turtle shells and cause damage when removed. In this case, they create so much drag in the water they can make it difficult for the turtle to swim.
Luckily for this turtle, a set of sea rescuers noticed her floating in the water and cleaned her off so she could return to the water with far less weight and drag. If you watch until the end, you’ll be happy to see her all cleaned up and swimming away!
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