Sad News: Beached Sperm Whale Had 64 Pounds of Trash in its Body

Sad News: Beached Sperm Whale Had 64 Pounds of Trash in its Body
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When there are more pieces of plastic polluting the planet than there are stars in the sky, certain disasters are unavoidable. In one sad tale, a sperm whale that washed ashore in Spain was found to have 64 pounds of waste in its digestive system – most of it plastic. [1]

The discovery of what caused the young whale’s death has prompted authorities in the town of Murcia to launch a campaign to clean up its beaches. Murcia’s general director of environment, Consuelo Rosauro said in a statement:

“The presence of plastic in the ocean and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, as many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large quantities of plastics that end up causing their death.” [1]

Sperm whales normally dine on large squid, sharks, and fish; and the male whales can grow to weigh some 45 tons. But this 33-foot-long mammal, which washed ashore in February 2018 near a lighthouse in Cabo de Palos, was abnormally thin; it weighed about 7 tons. A necropsy showed that its stomach and intestines were full of trash bags, polypropylene sacks, ropes, pieces of net, and a drum, among other things. [2]

Read: Will There Be More Plastic than Fish in the Ocean by 2050?

The whale had ultimately died from peritonitis, an abdominal infection that was caused by its digestive system being literally plugged up with trash. The animal was unable to digest the items it had swallowed, and its digestive system ruptured. [1]

The sad, painful death of such a majestic creature is heartbreaking; and it’s a stark reminder that 150 tons of plastic are floating around in the ocean, and 8 million new tons enter the water each year, according to the World Economic Forum.

A report released in March 2018 shows that approximately 70% of marine litter is non-degradable plastic. That amount is expected to triple within a decade.

Murcia’s cleanup initiative will include 11 events to clean the beaches, using both regional funds and assistance from the European Union (EU) for the campaign.


[1] CNN

[2] The Washington Post