Dead Sperm Whale Found With 29kgs of Plastic in Stomach
A dead sperm whale washed ashore off the coast of Spain, was killed by plastic pollution, according to autopsy reports.
The young male was discovered on Cabo de Palas beach in Murcia, southern Spain, in February. The official report concluded that the cause of death was peritonitis, an inflammation of the stomach lining, brought about by the presence of plastic waste that the whale had ingested.
The team of scientists from El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center, who performed the post-mortem examination, uncovered plastic bags, pieces of ropes and nets, and even an entire a jerry can that the whale had swallowed, eerily reminiscent of the heart-breaking sight of a sperm whale trying to eat a plastic bucket in the recent BBC Blue Planet II series.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Consuelo Rosauro, the Murcian director-general for the natural environment, said: 'The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, since many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large amounts of plastics that end up causing their death.'
As a result of the 10m-long animal's death, the Murcian regional government has launched a campaign to raise the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on wildlife within the local communities. 'The region of Murcia is no stranger to this problem,' said Rosauro, 'which we must tackle through clean-up actions and, above all, citizen awareness.'
Initiatives in recent years to reduce the amount of plastic waste being deposited into the world's oceans have had an observable impact, according to a recent report from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). The UK's 5p plastic bag charge has reduced consumption of single-use bags by around 80 per cent, leading to a decline in their presence in UK waters.
As the report sadly notes, however, 'despite the reduction in the number of plastic bags recorded in an analysis of scientific surveys, the overall amount of litter has been maintained by an increasing amount of other plastic items, including fishing debris.'