Researchers in Florida say they may have found out why sea turtles keep seeking out plastic trash.
University of Florida-Gainesville researchers said an “olfactory trap” that makes the garbage smell like food may make plastic trash irresistible to sea turtles.
“Plastics that have spent time in the ocean develop smells that turtles are attracted to and this is an evolutionary adaptation for finding food, but it has now become a problem for turtles because they’re attracted to the smells from the plastics,” study co-author Joseph Pfaller told the BBC.
Plastic debris is rapidly accumulating in the world’s oceans. Once the plastic enters the ocean, microbes, algae, plants and other tiny animals colonize it and make it their home.
That creates a food-like odor that attracts sea turtles.
Pfaller said more research needs to be done to better understand what chemicals are emitted from the plastics that attract the turtle and how waterborne odorants complicate the plastic waste problem.