According to several news reports, 29 sperm whales were found dead on the shores around the North Sea. Details of the animals’ necropsy left scientists deeply disturbed by what they found in the animals’ stomachs.
Many of the whales had stomachs FULL of plastic debris, including a 13-meter-long fishing net, a 70 cm piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter, a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein revealed.
Scientists believe that the animals thought the items were food, such as squid, which is their main staple. Others, however, believe that the travesty is largely the result of an overabundance of plastic in the oceans.
“The whales’ deaths are symbolic of humanity’s shocking disregard for wildlife. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs,” Said Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Nicola Hodgkins of Whale and Dolphin Conservation echoed that statement “Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean – not just those who suction feed,” she stated.
This isn’t the first time a sperm whale has been found dead with innards full of inedible contents. In 2011, a young whale was found floating dead off the Greek island of Mykonos. Its stomach was so distended, biologists thought the animal swallowed a giant squid. However, when its four stomachs were dissected, nearly 100 plastic bags and other pieces of debris were found.
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