Quantcast

Plastic Bags and Fishing Nets Found in Stomach of Dead Whale

Animals

A mature sperm whale found dead in Taiwan had vast quantities of plastic bags and fishing nets filling its stomach, highlighting the devastating toll of marine pollution.

According to the Association Foreign Press (AFP) news agency, the 15-meter (49-foot) whale was first found stranded near the town of Tongshi on Oct. 15.

Coastguards and scientists returned it to the sea, but three days later, the same whale was found dead around 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.

After conducting an autopsy of the whale, local marine biologists reported that there was enough plastic bags and fishing nets found in its stomach to fill an excavator bucket.

Professor Wang Chien-ping, head of the whale research center at National Cheng-Kung University, told the AFP that while the whale might have died from many causes, such as heart or lung disease or infections, trash was also a culprit.

"The large amount of man-made garbage in the stomach could reduce its appetite and cause malnutrition," he said. "It was likely a critical cause of death."

About 80 percent of the sperm whale's diet is giant squid, so this whale might have mistaken plastic bags for food.

He Chih-ying, spokeswoman for The Society of Wilderness conservation group, spoke about how ocean trash is a major plague to marine life.

"We frequently heard of marine animals killed after swallowing lots of garbage, but this one was the biggest in size for many years," she told the AFP.

The harmful effects of marine pollution have been choking the entire marine food chain, from plankton to much larger creatures.

In August, a group of fishermen in Middle Harbour, Sydney, came across an endangered Southern right whale struggling with a plastic bag and fishing line caught in its mouth. Luckily, the men were able to remove the debris.

Marine biologist Tegan A. L. Mortimer told EcoWatch that incident is a reminder that these creatures live in our backyards and are impacted by human activities.

“Globally, the leading threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises are entanglement in fishing gear and strikes from vessels,” she said. “The impacts of plastic pollution on these animals isn’t well understood but we do know, from examples like this, that these animals are interacting with our plastic trash. Plastic in the ocean is something that everyone can have a positive impact on.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Another Whale Dead From Ingesting a Plastic Bag

Palau Creates One of the World’s Largest Marine Sanctuaries

Acclaimed Mermaid Delivers Strong Message to Chicken of the Sea

A Sneak Peek at Jon and Tracey Stewart’s Animal Rescue Farm

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.

The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.

"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."

Read More Show Less
Cigarette butt litter. Tavallai / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Dipika Kadaba

We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Thanasis Zovoilis / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Infants less than a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

By Wenonah Hauter

Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.

Read More Show Less
Los Angeles-Long Beach, California is listed as the nation's smoggiest city. Pixabay

Seven million more Americans lived in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution between 2015 and 2017 than between 2014 and 2016, and climate change is partly to blame, Time reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Kissing bug. Pavel Kirillov / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the kissing bug, which can transmit a potentially deadly parasite, has spread to Delaware, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
"Take the pledge today." Screenshot / StopFoodWasteDay.com

Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.

Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative of food service company Compass Group. It was launched first in the U.S, in 2017 and went global the year after, making today it's second worldwide celebration.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

Read More Show Less