Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Tucson

Sea Turtles Attracted to Deadly Ocean Plastic

Sea Turtle Attracted to Ocean Plastic


Loggerhead turtles may think they’re biting into a favorite food when they encounter some synthetics, a study of 15 turtles in the journal Current Biology posits. Ocean plastic is often covered with algae and other marine organisms (biofouled), making it smell delicious to them. At least 1,000 die every year because they swallow plastic or get tangled up in it. Exposed to different odors in the lab, the loggerheads responded to the smell of turtle food, distilled water, clean plastic and biofouled plastic. The team found that the turtles had similar responses to biofouled plastic as to their normal food.

Kayla Goforth, a Ph.D. student in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who worked on the study, says, “So they have to come up to breathe. And we know that they can detect airborne odors. So when they find that there’s an odor of interest in the air, they’ll spend an increased amount of time at the surface with their nostrils out of the water. And we found that the turtles spent more time with their nostrils out of the water when there was this biofouled plastic odor or a food odor.”
Join Our Email Newsletter


COMING IN PRINT: 2020 October Issue
Due Date: September 10. Be a part of our upcoming September issue. Contact [email protected] for cheerful and efficient help with your marketing!
Missed the print deadline? Try email news!

Email News Exclusives with Social Media pushes; ask us about it today! [email protected]

Visit Us on Facebook
2020 Editorial Calendar

Try Foot Reflexology After Heart Surgery
Nurses Stand Up Against Climate Change
Hug A Mate For A Happy Relationship
Dinosaur Bone Ownership Resolved