Sea turtles around the world are threatened by marine plastic debris, mostly through ingestion and entanglement. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on March 9 have new evidence to explain why all that plastic is so dangerous for the turtles: they mistake the scent of stinky plastic for food.
“We found that loggerhead sea turtles respond to odors from biofouled plastics in the same way they respond to food odorants, suggesting that turtles may be attracted to plastic debris not only by the way it looks, but by the way it smells,” says Joseph Pfaller of the University of Florida, Gainesville. “This ‘olfactory trap’ might help explain why sea turtles ingest and become entangled in plastic so frequently.”
Biofouling refers to the accumulation of microbes, algae, plants, and small animals on wet surfaces, which occurs to plastics in the ocean. MORE