Sea turtles mistake plastic smell for food

Researchers have long known the dangers that plastic debris in the ocean can pose to sea turtles. They can swallow it. They can get tangled in it. But researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently discovered a reason this plastic is so perilous to turtles. The scent on the plstic, colonized by algae and other microscopic life, smells like food. “This is a study that needed to be done 20 years ago. I’m glad someone finally did it,” Jeanette Wyneken, a Florida Atlantic University Marine biologist, told Popular Science.

Read more here, and find the study in Current Biology here.

Header Image: A loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) swims in an experimental arena. ©Joseph Pfaller