Odors from marineplastic debris elicitforaging behavior insea turtles

Plastic debris is rapidly accumulating in the oceans . Nearly 700 species of marine animals, including endangered megafauna like sea turtles and whales, are threatened by plastic debris through ingestion and entanglement . Despite the ubiquity of this threat, little is known about the sensory mechanisms that drive wildlife to interact with plastic debris. Recent fi ndings suggest that marine animals may be attracted to plastic debris not only by the way it looks, but also by the way it smells. The same airborne odorants used by marine predators to identify prey and locate areas of elevated ocean productivity also emanate from marine-conditioned or ‘biofouled’ plastic debris . Whether these sensory cues drive interactions with plastic in marine megafauna has not been tested. Here we report that oceanic-stage loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) respond to airborne odorants emanating from biofouled plastic in the same way that they respond to food odorants. These fi ndings demonstrate that sea turtles detect odorants associated with marine plastic and raise the possibility that such odorants are sensory cues that facilitate fatal interactions

More: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.071


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