A sperm whale was found washed ashore dead after swallowing 64 pounds of plastic debris. The male sperm whale was found on the Murcian coast in southern Spain in late February, reminding us how critical plastic waste in the oceans has become.
After investigating, the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Center determined that the sperm whale was killed by gastric shock to its stomach and intestines after ingesting 64 pounds of plastic. The autopsy found plastic bags, nets, ropes, plastic sacks, and even a plastic jerrycan in the whale’s stomach and intestines.
Experts found the inner walls of the whale’s abdomen to be inflamed due to a bacterial or fungal infection. This is likely a result of the whale unable to expel the plastics from its system, resulting in peritonitis.
The male sperm whale, an endangered species protected in the US under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, weighed over 6 tonnes and measured 33 feet long. Sperm whales typically eat squid and live around the same lifespan as humans, averaging 70 years.
As a result of the whale’s death, the Murcia government launched a campaign against dumping plastic waste into the coastal town’s water. The coastal community is working to raise awareness of the ever-growing plastic problem in the oceans and the need for beach cleaning.
- Green indicates plastic bags are banned
- Yellow indicates a tax on some plastic bags
- Orange indicates a voluntary tax agreement
- Purple indicates a partial tax or ban at a regional level
Countries that are phasing out single-use plastic bags (Wikipedia)
The European Union is pushing a transition to have all plastic recyclable or reusable by 2030 with many agencies around the world discussing phasing out non-biodegradable plastics completely.
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Yet Another Dead Whale Is Grave Reminder Of Our Massive Plastic Problem
Trevor Nance, Forbes, Science, April 9, 2018