The long and windy path to a Ph.D. is lined with blood, sweat and tears. Like a roller coaster, it can be filled with joy, anxiety, fear and even nausea. This story is regarding one chapter of my dissertation, one that filled me with all these emotions and lead me to the conclusion that even in science, sh%* happens. But in this story, what we could not control lead us to better scientific conclusions with greater environmental realism. Due to what may seem like an experimental shortcoming, we were able to answer an important “so what?” question related to plastic marine debris.