A young whale has been found dead in the Philippines with almost 40 kg of plastic waste jammed inside its stomach. The juvenile animal reportedly died from starvation. Last week, local marine officers called the curators of the natural history museum in Davao City asking them to come and collect the body of the near-dead whale. It had been spotted close to shore vomiting blood.
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Experts at the museum undertook an necropsy on the animals shortly after it died and revealed the awful truth. The whale had literally been choked to death by plastic waste. Darrell Blatchley, a marine mammal expert at the D’Bone Collector Museum was shocked by what he discovered in whales body.
Plastic felt like dense basketballs
He described the plastic as feeling hard and densely compacted by its time inside the whale. Some of it had obviously been there so long that it had started to calcify. The whale was identified as a young male Cuvier beaked whale.
It was about 15 feet long and weighed just under 500 kg. It is thought to have died from starvation and dehydration due to its internal systems being completely choked by the waste that included rice sacks, nylon rope and food packaging. The necropsy revealed that no food had passed through the whales intensities for several days.
90 percent of sea birds have ingested plastic
It seemed it's stressed body was trying to deal with the contents by producing extra stomach acid. But instead of breaking down the plastic it only managed to tear holes inside the whale's stomach instead. Sady, this whale is not an isolated incident.
Since plastic waste became an epidemic thousands of animals and sea creatures are affected every year. In 2015, scientists estimated that around 90 percent of all seabirds have ingested some amount of plastic. It is estimated by UNESCO that more than 100,000 marine mammals die each year because of plastic pollution.
Plastic can kill animals in several ways, some choke when they get tangle inside it, other starve to death like this whale after ingesting plastics while others die after swallowing sharp plastic that tears holes in the animal's insides. Plastic pollution is becoming so pervasive, that a recent study found evidence of microplastics in the deepest trenches of our oceans.
Action needs to be swift and deliberate in order to remedy this catastrophic pollution. The European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastic items last year a law that will come into effect in 2021.
But other nations must tackle this problem too. banning isn’t only a solution, removal of existing plastic from our oceans is also desperately needed. One huge challenge to face is the issue of microplastics. This is plastic that has broken down from large items into almost microscopic plastic beads.
These tiny items are almost impossible to collect but pose major health risks to animals and possibly humans as the plastic is passed onto omnivores through the food chain.