Dead whale found with stomach full of plastic: 115 cups, 2 flip-flops and much, much more

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic waste in its stomach, including drinking cups and flip-flops, a park official said Tuesday, causing concern among environmentalists and government officials in one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries.Rescuers from Wakatobi National Park found the rotting carcass of the 9.5-meter sperm whale late Monday near the park in Southeast Sulawesi province after receiving a report from environmentalists that villagers had surrounded the dead whale and were beginning to butcher the rotting carcass, park chief Heri Santoso said.

Santoso said researchers from wildlife conservation group WWF and the park’s conservation academy found about 5.9 kilograms of plastic waste in the animal’s stomach containing 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.

The dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic waste in its stomach, causing concern among environmentalists and government officials in one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries. Muhammad Irpan Sejati Tassakka via AP / AP
“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” said Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation co-ordinator at WWF Indonesia.She said it was not possible to determine if the plastic had caused the whale’s death because of the animal’s advanced state of decay.

Researchers remove plastic waste from the stomach of a beached whale at Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Muhammad Irpan Sejati Tassakka via AP / AP

 

Indonesia, an archipelago of 260 million people, is the world’s second-largest plastic polluter after China, according to a study published in the journal Science in January. It produces 3.2 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste a year, of which 1.29 million tons ends up in the ocean, the study said.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s co-ordinating minister of maritime affairs, said the whale’s discovery should raise public awareness about the need to reduce plastic use, and had spurred the government to take tougher measures to protect the ocean.

Indonesia in one of the world’s largest plastic polluting countries. Muhammad Irpan Sejati Tassakka via AP / AP

“I’m so sad to hear this,” said Pandjaitan, who recently has campaigned for less use of plastic. “It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”

He said the government is making efforts to reduce the use of plastic, including urging shops not to provide plastic bags for customers and teaching about the problem in schools nationwide to meet a government target of reducing plastic use by 70 percent by 2025.

“This big ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy,” he told The Associated Press.

 

The Associated Press

November 20, 2018

Dead whale found with stomach full of plastic: 115 cups, 2 flip-flops and much, much more

Yet Another Dead Whale Is Grave Reminder Of Our Massive Plastic Problem

A sperm whale was found washed ashore dead after swallowing 64 pounds of plastic debris. The male sperm whale was found on the Murcian coast in southern Spain in late February, reminding us how critical plastic waste in the oceans has become.

After investigating, the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Center determined that the sperm whale was killed by gastric shock to its stomach and intestines after ingesting 64 pounds of plastic. The autopsy found plastic bags, nets, ropes, plastic sacks, and even a plastic jerrycan in the whale’s stomach and intestines.

Experts found the inner walls of the whale’s abdomen to be inflamed due to a bacterial or fungal infection. This is likely a result of the whale unable to expel the plastics from its system, resulting in peritonitis.

The male sperm whale, an endangered species protected in the US under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, weighed over 6 tonnes and measured 33 feet long. Sperm whales typically eat squid and live around the same lifespan as humans, averaging 70 years.

As a result of the whale’s death, the Murcia government launched a campaign against dumping plastic waste into the coastal town’s water. The coastal community is working to raise awareness of the ever-growing plastic problem in the oceans and the need for beach cleaning.

 It is becoming increasingly clear that plastic in our oceans is a core threat to marine life in the decades to come.  Approximately 5 trillion pieces of plastic are estimated to be floating around the world’s oceans based on a recent study. To make matters worse, marine experts believe the total weight of plastic in our oceans could outweigh fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.
With an increasing amount of plastic discarded in oceans, whale deaths due to ingestion of plastics are becoming far too common… To cope with this dilemma, many countries around the world are phasing out single-use plastic bags as typically seen in grocery stores. Below is a map of where countries are in their phasing out of low-density polyethylene plastic bags.
  • Green indicates plastic bags are banned
  • Yellow indicates a tax on some plastic bags
  • Orange indicates a voluntary tax agreement
  • Purple indicates a partial tax or ban at a regional level

  Countries that are phasing out single-use plastic bags (Wikipedia)

The European Union is pushing a transition to have all plastic recyclable or reusable by 2030 with many agencies around the world discussing phasing out non-biodegradable plastics completely.

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Yet Another Dead Whale Is Grave Reminder Of Our Massive Plastic Problem

Trevor Nance, Forbes, Science, April 9, 2018

https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/04/09/yet-another-dead-whale-is-grave-reminder-of-our-massive-plastic-problem/#baaeb156cd23

How Much Plastic do Seabirds Eat?

90% of seabirds now have plastic in their stomachs. Unless we drastically reduce the flow of plastic entering the ocean, by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have plastic in them.  For example. plastic debris can make up to 15% of a Shearwater’s body weight. For an 80 km human, that would be 12 kg. Imagine carrying 12 kg of plastic in your stomach!

“That straw you used for one drink, the spoon you used to stir your coffee, and then threw in the trash… will be around as long as the Roman coliseum has been standing. From the time Jesus Christ died, until this moment, is the time span that your “disposable” item will be polluting he earth. Is the 30 seconds of use it worth it? Just THINK ABOUT stuff before you go to grab it. Ask yourself, do I need to use this, or can I skip it this time?” Michelle Miller

 

Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastic

A fishing net, part of a car engine, and plastic buckets were found in the stomachs of 13 sperm whales which washed up on a German beach

Fishing gear and an engine cover are just some of the startling contents found inside the stomachs of sperm whales that recently beached themselves on Germany’s North Sea coast.

The 13 sperm whales washed up near the German state of Schleswig-Holstein earlier this year, the latest in a series of whale strandings around the North Sea. So far, more than 30 sperm whales have been found beached since the start of the year in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Germany.

After a necropsy of the whales in Germany, researchers found that four of the giant marine animals had large amounts of plastic waste in their stomachs. The garbage included a nearly 43-foot-long (13-meter-long) shrimp fishing net, a plastic car engine cover, and the remains of a plastic bucket, according to a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein.

However, “the marine litter did not directly cause the stranding,” says Ursula Siebert, head of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, whose team examined the sperm whales.

Instead, the researchers suspect that the whales died because the animals accidentally ventured into shallow seas.

. . . According to the WDC, whales and dolphins may strand for many reasons, such as excessive noise pollution from ships and drilling surveys or even subtle shifts in Earth’s magnetic field. In addition, pilot whales that beached off the coast of Scotland three years ago showed high levels of toxins from ocean pollution, which scientists linked to stress on their brains that may have caused disorientation.

  

Schleswig-Holstein environment minister Robert Habeck holds debris found inside beached sperm whales in a picture posted to Instagram.  (Photo Robert Habeck,Instagram)

Sperm whale swims near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. Photography by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative

. . . Siebert adds that if the whales had survived, the garbage in their guts might have caused digestive problems down the line. At the time of death, the animals were in decent shape and, in addition to the debris, the scientists found thousands of squid beaks in the whales’ stomachs.

But when whales and dolphins ingest lots of marine litter, either accidentally or because they mistake the trash for prey, it can cause physical damage to their digestive systems. The trash may eventually give the animals the sensation of being full and reduce their instinct to feed, leading to malnutrition.

While the garbage may not have been lethal for these whales, “the plastic debris in their stomachs is a horrible indictment of humans,” adds Hal Whitehead, a whale researcher at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Featured image: Sperm whales found with ingested car parts and other plastic. Photo credit: Facebook

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Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastic