Sea turtles are attracted to the smell of ocean plastics

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New evidence suggests that sea turtles are drawn to the smell of plastic debris found in the ocean, according to a report published in Current Biology.

The research team conducted experiments on 15 five-month-old captive loggerhead turtles.

They placed each of the turtles into an isolated container where they would be exposed to the odor of four different items in random order: turtle food, clean plastic debris, deionized water, and plastic that was purposely exposed to a marine environment for five weeks so it would become coated with marine microbes.

The turtles were given roughly one minute inside the container before being exposed to the odor of the items. The airborne particles were supplied into the container through a pipe and a fan outside of the isolated tank for two minutes. Researchers observed the turtles' behavior for four minutes after being exposed to the odors.

Results showed that turtles were attracted by the scent of turtle food and bio-fouled plastic equally. When exposed to these two items, turtles kept their nares above the water three times longer than they did when exposed to clean plastics and deionized water.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Loggerhead turtle swimming towards ocean plastic
2. Odors the loggerhead turtle is exposed to
3. Odor particles are funneled into pool where turtle is being contained
4. Turtle is attracted to ocean plastics and turtle food

VOICEOVER (in English):

"According to a report published in Current Biology, new evidence suggests that sea turtles are drawn to the smell of plastic debris found in the ocean."

"The research team conducted experiments on 15 five-month-old captive loggerhead turtles."

"They placed each of the turtles into an isolated container where they would be exposed to the odor of four different items in random order: turtle food, clean plastic debris, deionized water, and plastic that was purposely exposed to a marine environment for five weeks so it would become coated with marine microbes."

"The turtles were given roughly one minute inside the container before being exposed to the odor of the items. The airborne particles were supplied into the container through a pipe and a fan outside of the isolated tank for two minutes. Researchers observed the turtles' behavior for four minutes after being exposed to the odors."

"Results showed that turtles were attracted by the scent of turtle food and bio-fouled plastic equally. When exposed to these two items, turtles kept their nares above the water three times longer than they did when exposed to clean plastics and deionized water."

SOURCES:
Current Biology, BBC News
https://www.cell.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0960-9822%2820%2930115-9
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51804884