Sea Turtles' Attraction to Plastic Leads to their Extinction. 

Sea turtles in the seas mistake plastic for food and consume them. 

Sea Turtles' Attraction to Plastic Leads to their Extinction. 
Sea turtles' attraction to plastic leads to their extinction. 

Sea Turtles' Attraction to Plastic Leads to their Extinction. 

Sea turtles are facing a significant threat as they consume plastic dumped in the water bodies. They get attracted to plastic for their scent, scientists reveal. 

They eat plastic because it not only looks like a jellyfish while floating but also provides a food-like smell to them. 

According to US researchers, this is an "olfactory trap" for them to mistake plastic for food and consume them at a high level. 

There is a considerable number of plastic wastes dumped in the seas. 

Many marine species, besides whales, turtles, and birds like to eat netting, plastic bags, and bottles. This consumption threatens all of them. 

An official from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Dr. Joseph Pfaller says the smell from the submerged or floating plastics is an "olfactory trap" for sea turtles. 

He says, "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." 

We do not care about what happens to the plastic we dump into the water bodies. After they reach the sea, plastics become the living zones for algae, microbes, plants, and other tiny animals. Their presence in plastic makes a food-like smell that attracts fish and other sea birds. It is also the reason behind sea turtles get attracted to plastics.   

To find out foods, marine predators like sea birds, whales, and sea turtles move around a vast area in the sea. They also produce chemicals in the water or air to find food, as Dr. Pfaller confirms. 

He says, "It's not just a visual thing - they're being attracted from probably long distances away to these garbage patches out in the open ocean."

How dangerous plastic bags and straws to the sea turtles is not an unknown fact. It became apparent in 2015 when a video of a turtle with a stuck straw in its nose went viral.  

According to Dr. Pfaller, plastic does pose potential threats. 

Plastic bags and straw are problems, but the level of threat increases when bacteria and other animals start to live there. The turtles like to eat the plastic because it becomes appealing with the odor of the animals residing on those plastics. So, they consume plastic and decrease their health condition and eventually die.  

The experts published the study in Current Biology. They have studied 15 young loggerhead sea turtles with a series of experiments on them. 

As a part of their experiment, they released airborne plastic odors above the turtles' water tank air and focused on the cameras to see how they react. 

The reaction was similar to the fish and shrimp meal smell. That means the odor of plastic is an odor of food for the turtles. 

When they smell such odor outside the water, they kept their head above water three times longer than standard times only to enjoy the smell of plastics. 

It is an excellent achievement by scientists to protect the turtles from plastic' threats like entanglement and ingestion. 

Another study of the recent time also shows that if the current trend on dumping plastic remains the same, by 2050, most of the seabirds will ingest plastic waste.