SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – Students at Greene County Middle School crawled inside a life-size 58-foot inflatable whale to learn how trash affects marine life.

Watson the Whale travels to schools across the coastal Carolinas throughout the school year.

It’s a part of an outreach program through UNCW’s MarineQuest.

Crawling inside the belly of a whale may be a fun experience, but it’s also a great interactive learning tool about how trash affects marine life.

“Other animals like our whales are eating them, they’re ingesting them, they’re getting caught in it. So we talk about ingestion which is one main consequence and entanglement, those are the two main issues that we have with our animals,” said Samantha Albotra from UNCW’s MarineQuest youth programs.

Trash can make its way into the ocean from anywhere, even hundreds of miles away. The program stresses the importance each piece of misplaced trash can have on the ecosystem.

Jennifer Walmsley, STEM teacher at Greene County Middle School, says that even trash that flies out of a car on accident can have its effect.

“When that bag flies out of the car accidentally or when that trash can overflows so that trash goes somewhere else, that it’s going to be making its way to affect others and affect organisms that live off of our coast.”

The students at Greene County Middle School are all ears.

“It’s not good for people to throw away trash. We need to recycle and we need to think about the whales and the other animals that are in the ocean,” said Kentrell Suggs, 8th-grade student.

Watson the Whale will continue traveling across the area through August.