Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Plastic Bags and Fishing Nets Found in Stomach of Dead Whale

Animals
Plastic Bags and Fishing Nets Found in Stomach of Dead Whale

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Atlantic puffins courting at Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge in 2009. USFWS / Flickr

When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.

Read More Show Less
Rescue workers dig through the rubble following a gas explosion in Baltimore, Maryland on Aug. 10, 2020. J. Countess / Getty Images

A "major" natural gas explosion killed two people and seriously injured at least seven in Baltimore, Maryland Monday morning.

Read More Show Less
The recalled list includes red, yellow, white and sweet yellow onions, which may be tainted with salmonella. Pxhere

Nearly 900 people across the U.S. and Canada have been sickened by salmonella linked to onions distributed by Thomson International, the The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Methane flares at a fracking site near a home in Colorado on Oct. 25, 2014. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

In the coming days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to use its power to roll back yet another Obama-era environmental protection meant to curb air pollution and slow the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Researchers on the ICESCAPE mission, funded by NASA, examine melt ponds and their surrounding ice in 2011 to see how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the biological and chemical makeup of the ocean. NASA / Flickr

By Alex Kirby

The temperature of the Arctic matters to the entire world: it helps to keep the global climate fairly cool. Scientists now say that by 2035 there could be an end to Arctic sea ice.

Read More Show Less
President Vladimir Putin is seen enjoying the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A John Deere agricultural tractor sits under a collapsed building following a derecho storm on Aug. 10, 2020 near Franklin Grove, Illinois. Daniel Acker / Getty Images

A powerful series of thunderstorms roared across the Midwest on Monday, downing trees, damaging structures and knocking out power to more than a million people.

Read More Show Less