Ocean Animals Cannot Stop Eating Plastic Because It Looks, Smells, and Even Sounds Like Food

Source: BBC/Josh Gabbatiss

Photo: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash


Plastic doesn’t just look like food, it smells, feels and even sounds like food.

In a recent interview about Blue Planet II, David Attenborough describes a sequence in which an albatross arrives at its nest to feed its young.

“And what comes out of the mouth?” he says. “Not fish, and not squid – which is what they mostly eat. Plastic.”

It is, as Attenborough says, heartbreaking. It’s also strange. Albatrosses forage over thousands of kilometres in search of their preferred prey, which they pluck from the water with ease. How can such capable birds be so easily fooled, and come back from their long voyages with nothing but a mouthful of plastic?

It’s small comfort to discover that albatrosses are not alone. At least 180 species of marine animalshave been documented consuming plastic, from tiny plankton to gigantic whales. Plastic has been found inside the guts of a third of UK-caught fish, including species that we regularly consume as food. It has also been found in other mealtime favourites like mussels and lobsters.

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Photo: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash

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