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SeaBirds Attracted to Plastic by the Smell

For years’ people have wondered, why it is that seabirds and other marine wildlife have been drawn to plastic and garbage? Well a recent experiment may shed some light on the subject. Many seabirds it seems use their keen sense of smell for locating dinner. Primarily the smell of dimethyl sulfide, this odiferous gas is present in many of the seabird’s favorite meals.

Recently a team of researchers let small beads of three very common plastics linger of the coast of California. Over time the plastic collected dirt and grime, leading to bacteria growth which in turn lead to the plastic giving off the same smell.

This explains why some birds seem drawn to plastic that has been floating in the ocean for extended periods. Primarily the birds that rely heavily on their sense of smell to find their food, such as blue petrels. Not only birds the team also found that other marine wildlife that is used to following the smell of dimethyl sulfide for their food could be fooled into munching on the harmful plastic material.

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