10 March 2020
Reports from a study appear to have discovered the reason why turtles are constantly consuming the plastic waste that’s in the ocean which then leads to their deaths.
The study undertaken by scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill uncovered that the reason why turtles consume plastic waste is due to the its scent.
According to the ‘Current Biology’ study which was published on Monday turtles tend to mistaken plastics in the ocean for food and hence they consume them unknowingly.
University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill biologist Kenneth J. Lohmann in the study shared that, “this finding is important because it’s the first demonstration that the odor of ocean plastics causes animals to eat them.”
After undertaking multiple tests on the responses of several loggerhead turtles to different scents the study discovered that the turtles were mostly attracted to the smell of food and plastics that had been in the ocean, as opposed to the smell of clean plastics and water.
Hence the research team from North Carolina went on to determine that the turtles responded to the microbes, algae, plants and small animals on the surface of plastic the same way that they did to their normal food.
The discovery is concerning when you consider that there’s over 8 million tons of plastic waste that’s dumped into the ocean annually and once a turtle consumes the plastic it cannot regurgitate it.