As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Why do seabirds eat plastic?

The answer stinks marine plastic debris is an olfactory trap for seabirds 

Date: November 10, 2016
Source: UC Davis



If it smells like food, and looks like food, it must be food, right?

Not in the case of ocean-faring birds that are sometimes found with bellies full of plastic. But very little research examines why birds make the mistake of eating plastic in the first place.

It turns out that marine plastic debris emits the scent of a sulfurous compound that some seabirds have relied upon for thousands of years to tell them where to find food, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. This olfactory cue essentially tricks the birds into confusing marine plastic with food.

The study, published Nov. 9 in the journal Science Advances, helps explain why plastic ingestion is more prevalent in some seabird species than in others. Tubenosed seabirds, such as petrels and albatross, have a keen sense of smell, which they use to hunt. They are also among the birds most severely affected by plastic consumption.

Read on

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