Seabirds are enticed into eating plastic debris because it smells like their food, according to scientists.The study found that drifting plastic waste accumulates algae and gives off a smell very similar to the krill that many marine birds feed on. The findings could explain why certain birds - including albatrosses and shearwaters - which rely on their sense of smell for hunting, are particularly vulnerable to swallowing plastic.

Matthew Savoca, the study’s lead author at the University of California Davis, said: “Animals usually have a reason for the decisions they make. If we want to truly understand why animals are eating plastic in the ocean, we have to think about how animals find food.”

The rate of plastic pollution is steadily increasing worldwide, with one study last year estimating that about eight million metric tons of plastic - enough to cover every foot of coastline in the world - is enters the oceans annually.

Read More