Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

13 Pounds of Plastic Found in Dead Sperm Whale

Animals
13 Pounds of Plastic Found in Dead Sperm Whale
A sperm whale that washed up in Indonesia's Wakatobi National Park had plastic bottles, bags and cups in its belly. @WWF_ID / Kartika Sumolang

Yet another whale has suffered from plastic pollution. A sperm whale that washed up dead in a national park in Indonesia had nearly 13 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach, park officials told the Associated Press.

Researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the park's conservation academy uncovered more than 1,000 other pieces of plastic, including 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops and a nylon sack.


WWF-Indonesia posted disturbing photos of the beached whale on social media.

The carcass of the 31-foot marine mammal—found late Monday near Kapota Island in Wakatobi National Park—contained "hard plastic (19 pieces, 140g), plastic bottles (4 pieces, 150g), plastic bags (25 pieces, 260g), flip-flops (2 pieces, 270g), pieces of string (3.26kg) & plastic cups (115 pieces, 750g)," the conservation group tweeted.

It's not clear if plastic was the direct cause of the whale's death since it was in an advanced state of decay when it was found, Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation co-ordinator at WWF-Indonesia, explained to the Associated Press.

"Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful," she said.

Wakatobi park plans to bury the whale on Tuesday and its remains will be used for study by the local marine academy, Reuters reported.

Plastic pollution is a worldwide problem, but it's particularly bad in Asia, where there are few collection and recovery systems. China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka are responsible for up to 60 percent of the marine plastic entering our oceans, according to a 2015 study from the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

Around the world, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste gets dumped in our seas every year, causing countless marine animals to suffer from either becoming entangled in the material or ingesting it, which leads to suffocation or starvation. In June, a pilot whale died in southern Thailand after swallowing 17 pounds of plastics.

Indonesia itself produces about 130,000 tons of plastic and solid waste per day, The Guardian reported in March, citing data from the Rivers, Oceans, Lakes and Ecology Foundation. Unfortunately, only half of that trash reaches landfills. The remaining half is either illegally burned or dumped into the country's waters.

Last year, the Indonesian government announced it will pledge $1 billion a year toward reducing marine waste by 70 percent by 2025.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister of maritime affairs, told the AP that the whale's plight should raise public awareness about the necessity to curb the use of plastic.

"I'm so sad to hear this," said Pandjaitan. "It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives."

Pandjaitan has pushed the government to take tougher action on plastic to help protect our oceans.

"This big ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy," he said.

Marsh Creek in north-central California is the site of restoration project that will increase residents' access to their river. Amy Merrill

By Katy Neusteter

The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Brood X cicada in 2004. Pmjacoby / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A creative depiction of bigfoot in a forest. Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.

Read More Show Less
President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 30, 2020. Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By Jon Queally

Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.

Read More Show Less

A dwarf giraffe is seen in Uganda, Africa. Dr. Michael Brown, GCF

Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.

Read More Show Less