Scientists have been wondering why seabirds eat plastic trash that flows into the oceans. This is why they made a study in order to see why these birds treat plastic trash like food. A group of scientists from the US thinks that they managed to find out the reason why these birds feed on plastic bags and trash.
This new study that was published in the journal Science Advances that some of the food the seabirds eat, algae, has dimethyl sulfide. Seabirds can sense the smell of the krill that has dimethyl sulfide and this is why they eat the plastic trash too because it has the same smell.
The researchers discovered that plastic trash, once thrown into the ocean; it accumulates algae which mean that it smells like it too. This is why the seabirds can’t see the difference between the plastic bags and their food.
In order to prove their theory researchers put plastic bags into the ocean for 3 weeks and they took them to the laboratory to see what chemicals they had. Once the researchers analyzed the plastic they discovered that it contained a sulfur compound. This was because it touched some algae while it was in the water.
The smell was strong and that can confuse animals into thinking that those are algae not plastic. The fact that plastic looks a lot like algae might confuse seabirds even more. Plastic trash can be really dangerous to animals because their bodies can assimilate it. This is because it contains DMS.
The interesting fact is that some birds are not affected by it and they might even have developed immunity to it. Good news is that not all of these birds are attracted by DMS that is found in the plastic trash. Those who are attracted by it tend to eat a lot of plastic trash compared to those who don’t sense it.
Scientists also believe that some other marine animals and fish might eat plastic because they sense the smell of algae on the plastic. This can even be dangerous for people who tend to eat a lot of marine food. The fish can have dangerous substances in its body that can affect humans once they eat the fish.
Image source: Wikipedia