Pregnant Sperm Whale Found Dead With Nearly 50 Pounds of Plastic in Her Stomach
A pregnant sperm whale washed up dead on a beach in Sardinia last week with 22 kilograms (approximately 48.5 pounds) of plastic in its stomach. This is the second whale in two weeks to be found dead with plastic in its belly: a male Cuvier's beaked whale was found in the Philippines after ingesting 88 pounds of plastic bags.
"It is the first time we have been confronted with an animal with such a huge quantity of garbage," University of Padova biologist Cinzia Centelegghe told the Turin daily La Stampa of the dead sperm whale, as the Associated Press reported.
That garbage included "garbage bags ... fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode ... and other objects no longer identifiable," SeaMe President Luca Bittau told CNN.
The whale was 26 feet long and pregnant. Bittau said that she had probably aborted her fetus before she washed up on a beach in the tourist town of Porto Cervo.
"The fetus was in an advanced state of composition," Bittau said.
Bittau told CNN that the cause of the whale's death is still to be determined by veterinarians in Padua in the north of Italy. However, experts said that she had been unable to digest calamari because of the plastic that had filled two-thirds of her stomach, according to the Associated Press.
Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa posted a picture of the dead whale on Facebook, along with calls for action on plastic pollution.
"We've used the 'comfort' of disposable objects in a lighthearted way in the past years and now we are paying the consequences. Indeed the animals, above all, are the ones paying them," he wrote, according to CNN.
He said he would propose a law allowing fishermen to bring plastics recovered at sea back to shore for disposal. He also said that Italy would be one of the first countries to implement an EU ban on single-use plastics passed last week. Finally, he called on mayors and local leaders to pass bans on plastics in cities and coastal towns.
"The war on disposable plastic has begun. And we won't stop here," he said, as CNN reported.
Environmental group WWF said that at least five other whales had died from ingesting plastics in Europe and Asia in the last two years. In Europe, between 150,000 and 500,000 tons of larger plastic items and 70,000 to 130,000 tons of microplastics find their way to the surrounding seas each year, the group said, as the Associated Press reported.
Another sperm whale died in Italy near Naples last December with plastic bags and a nylon thread in its stomach, but the plastic was not determined to be the cause of death.
This is heartbreaking, and needs to be a wakeup call to #rethinkdisposable --- Death by Plastic: 64 Pounds of Trash… https://t.co/Lf8RlSt0Fx— Clean Water Action (@Clean Water Action)1523374740.0
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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