The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Whale Found Dead With Small Pieces of Plastic Garbage in Its Stomach
Another whale dead from plastic? A male sei whale was found beached at the mouth of the Sarang Buaya River in Johor, Malaysia earlier this month with marine debris in its stomach. According to one report, local fishermen witnessed the stranded whale shedding tears and groaning as it took its last breaths.
After a necropsy was performed on the 12 meter-long whale, Johor Fisheries Department Director Munir Mohd Nawi told The Star that small pieces of plastic garbage and parasites were found in the carcass. A large quantity of mud was also found the whale's respiratory tract and obstructed his breathing.
"There is also a high number of orange-colored nematode parasites within its intestines," Munir said. "During the post mortem, we also found its internal organs to be badly damaged.”
Further tests including a tissue examination will be conducted to see if the whale had any other diseases.
“We want to know its exact cause of death as the sei whale is an endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” Munir said.
The baleen whale was first spotted two days earlier at the waters of the coastal district of Pontian. Local rescuers were able to tow the 15-tonne mammal into deeper waters but he later surfaced 90 nautical miles away in the shallow waters of the Sungai Sarang River.
The sight of the dying whale startled local residents. “Before its death, I was stunned by its loud groans and tears, as if it knew it would die soon," eye-witness Mohd Johari Hamdan told The Malaysia Insider.
The World Wildlife Fund said there are approximately 12,000 sei whales left on the planet. The sei whale is a major target for commercial whaling and 50 of these creatures are killed annually by Japanese whalers in the North Pacific in Japan's "scientific whaling" program.
Sei whales are also threatened by global warming, pollution, ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, the WWF said.
Like any other baleen whale, the sei whale skims surface waters for plankton, tiny marine crustaceans and krill.
Last August, EcoWatch reported on a Southern right baleen whale that was found struggling with a plastic bag and fishing line caught in its mouth. Luckily, local fishermen were able to remove the trash from the whale and it swam away.
Not much is known about the impact of plastic trash on filter-feeding or baleen whales, but the microplastics as well as the toxins released from plastic debris could potentially cause great danger, according to the Inquirer.
“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," marine biologist Tegan A. L. Mortimer told EcoWatch.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.
The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.
Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.
By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon
The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.
By Tara Lohan
By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.
Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust
By Fran Korten
On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.