Quantcast

Sperm Whale Dies With 220 Pound Trash Ball in Its Stomach

Oceans
A whale stranded on a Scottish beach had a massive amount of plastic in its stomach. HS News / YouTube screenshot

A sperm whale that washed up on a Scottish beach with 220 pounds of trash in its stomach is the latest symbol of the plastic pollution crisis.


The 20 ton juvenile male died Thursday on Seilebost beach on the Scottish Isle of Harris, CNN reported. The group Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), which performed the necropsy, discovered "a whole range of plastic including sections of net, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing," according to a Sunday Facebook post.

"All this material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of it it looked like it had been there for some time," the group said.

The group said that it was possible the amount of debris in the whale's stomach led to its stranding, but they saw no evidence that it had actually obstructed its intestines.

"What was unusual in this case was the sheer volume," SMASS Director Andrew Brownlow told The New York Times in an email.

SMASS also noted that the variety of debris found in the whale's stomach, which included both fishing industry and consumer trash, highlighted the global nature of the plastic pollution problem. They wrote that the whale could have ingested the plastic anywhere between the Azores and Norway, and are now working to discover why this particular whale swallowed such a large amount.

Dan Parry, who runs a Facebook group dedicated to picking up litter on nearby Luskentyre beach, posted the first photos of the stranded whale.

"Debris in our oceans is everyone's problem - the fishing industry need to do better, but equally, we all need to do more," he wrote. "Watching this today, makes me despair for the environment, totally falling apart around us."

Later, he seemed to take his own advice, at least according to a Sunday post on the Facebook page he administers.

"After seeing the fishing debris pulled from the whale's stomach yesterday, we headed to the beach today to dig out another massive tangle of fishing related rope and net that we had spotted right up at high tide mark," the post read. "Couldn't believe how much was actually there. I feel much better knowing that this can no longer be washed into the ocean potentially killing more aquatic life."

Luskentyre Beach - Isle of Harris

www.facebook.com

Approximately eight million tons of plastic enter the world's oceans every year, where it kills 100,000 marine mammals annually, according to Ocean Crusaders.

SMASS said locally that whale and dolphin strandings in Scotland are on the rise, BBC News reported. There were 204 reported in 2009, which more than tripled to more than 930 in 2018.

But Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America in Massachusetts Executive Director Regina Asmutis-Silvia told The New York Times that only a tiny fraction of the whales who die end up stranded on the beach.

"Some studies suggest that strandings account for as few as 2 percent of the number of whales who actually died," she said. "And while this stranding certainly draws attention to marine debris, a problem that we can all certainly help to resolve, it should also draw attention to the loss of the whale, a key player in our own survival."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More