Plastic is everywhere, even in the deepest depths of the ocean. We know sea turtles, and other marine animals, eat it, but experts aren’t entirely sure why. In a new study published this week in Current Biology, researchers may have pinpointed one of the reasons these charismatic marine reptiles eat small bits of plastic floating in the ocean. These plastic pieces develop a coating of algae and microorganisms, which the researchers found smells like food to turtles.
“Basically any type of plastic can get colonized by bacteria, algae, green organisms,” says biologist Joseph Pfaller, lead author on the paper and director of the Caretta Research Project in Savannah, Georgia.
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