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科学美国人60秒: 海洋生物塑料对海龟是无法抵挡的诱惑

所属教程:科学美国人60秒科学系列 更新:03-21
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Ocean Plastic Smells Great to Sea Turtles

海洋生物塑料对海龟是无法抵挡的诱惑

Plastic: It’s all over the ocean. And for sea turtles, it’s a killer. At least 1,000 die every year because they swallow plastic or get tangled up in it.So why do sea turtles run into plastic so often? And why the heck are they eating it? Scientists believed the turtles may think they’re biting into a jellyfish when they come across some plastics.

塑料:到处都是。对海龟来说,塑料是杀手。每年至少有1000只海龟因为吞下塑料或被塑料缠住而死亡。那么,为什么海龟会经常接触塑料呢?它们为什么要吃呢?科学家们认为,当海龟遇到一些塑料制品时,它们可能认为自己是在咬水母。

And now a study finds that the smell of plastic may also be attractive. Researchers exposed 15 loggerhead turtles to different odors in the lab. They tested the animals’ response to the smell of turtle food, distilled water, clean plastic and also to biofouled plastic—that’s plastic that has marine organisms growing all over it, which is a common occurrence in the sea and on beaches.

现在一项研究发现,塑料的气味可能也很诱人。研究人员将15只海龟在实验室里接受不同的气味。他们测试海龟对于食物的气味,蒸馏水,干净的塑料和生物腐烂塑料的反应。生物腐烂塑料在海洋中疯狂增长,而且常见于在大海和海滩上。

“It gets occupied by algae and other organisms pretty quickly. And it doesn’t take very long. I mean, if you leave a plastic water bottle sitting on the sand, even for a week, it’s liable to get covered in these organisms. And once it’s covered and biofouled, that’s what makes it so appetizing to turtles.”

它很快就被藻类和其他生物占用了。不需要很长时间。我的意思是,如果把一个塑料水瓶放在沙滩上,即使是一个星期,它也很容易被这些生物覆盖。一旦它被生物覆盖,也就是为何它对海龟如此美味的原因。”

Kayla Goforth, a Ph.D. student in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kayla Goforth是北卡罗来纳大学教堂山分校的生物学博士生。

The research team found that the loggerhead turtles had similar responses to biofouled plastic as to their normal food.

研究小组发现,赤蠵龟对生物塑料的反应与对正常食物的反应相似。

“So they have to come up to breathe. And we know that they can detect airborne odors. So when they find that there’s an odor of interest in the air, they’ll spend an increased amount of time at the surface with their nostrils out of the water. And we found that the turtles spent more time with their nostrils out of the water when there was this biofouled plastic odor or a food odor.”

“所以它们们必须上岸呼吸。我们知道它们能探测到空气中的气味。所以当它们发现空气中有一种有趣的气味时,就会花更多的时间待在水面上,把鼻孔从水里拿出来。我们发现,当有这种生物塑料气味或食物气味时,海龟的鼻孔离开水的时间更长。”

The study is in the journal Current Biology.

这项研究发表在《当代生物学》杂志上。

The researchers don’t know exactly what makes biofouled plastic smell so tasty to turtles. But they think a compound called dimethyl sulfide might be the culprit.

研究人员尚不清楚是什么使得生物塑料气味对海龟如此美味。但是他们认为一种叫做二甲基硫化物的化合物可能是罪魁祸首。

“It’s a chemical that we know that sea turtles can detect. And seabirds and some fishes are also capable of detecting it. And they all use it as a feeding cue.”

“我们知道海龟可以检测到这种化学物质。海鸟和一些鱼类也能探测到它。它们都把这种塑料当作喂食的线索。”

So the next time you’re about to buy that plastic bottle, remember: it could wind up inside a sea turtle.

所以,下次你打算买塑料瓶的时候,记住:它可能会成为海龟的食物。

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