Some observers have speculated that sea turtles end up munching on plastic bags because they look so much like jellyfish, a regular meal for leatherbacks.
“The aspect of the problem that was most interesting to me was, why are these animals making this mistake in the first place?” Savoca said. After all, fish and other marine life have evolved to target specific kinds of food, which should mean they’d avoid plastic entirely – unless the plastic was somehow “tricking” the animals into thinking it was edible.
But lead author Matthew Savoca, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Monterey, California, United States, wondered why the animals were eating it at all.
As plastic continues to accumulate in our oceans, scientists are looking at the long-term effects that the man-made material might have on the animals that eat it, and on the animals that eat them.
If you thought “empty calories” were bad for you, consider this: Plastic is ending up in the bellies of fish and other marine life, and it may not be an accident.