An image of 30 plastic bags has gone viral after it was explained that they were found inside the stomach of a whale that was stranded on the coast.
Scientists in Norway discovered the 30 plastic bags, amongst a mass of other plastic waste, inside the Cuvier beaked whale’s stomach, after it was put down by wardens once they realised that he wasn’t going to live. The whale was found in shallow waters that they do not usually inhabit, off the island of Sotra, in a terrible condition, which reports described as “emaciated”. This suggests that the huge amount of non-degradable plastic that the whale had ingested in the waters had led it to become seriously malnourished.
A zoologist who studied the whale, Dr Terje Lislevand, said, “The whale’s stomach was full of plastic bags and packaging with labels in Danish and English. The findings are not surprising, but clearly it is sad to discover such large quantities.” He also claimed that the whale’s intestines were likely blocked up with the plastic, which would have caused him severe pain before he was put down.
The Cuvier’s beaked whales normally live off a diet of squid and deep-sea fish. Despite being found on the coast of Norway, the whales, which can grow up to 22 feet long, are not normally found in Norwegian waters.
Although the images are indeed shocking, many are not surprised at the situation due to recent increased awareness of the amount of plastic in the oceans. Experts have since warned at the beginning of last year that there will be more plastic than sea life in the oceans by 2050. A minimum of eight million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year, which is the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of waste being dumped into the ocean every minute, according to a report from the World Economic Forum. These statistics are only expected to increase due to the excessive use of plastic being used across the globe, due to many emerging economies with weaker waste and recycling programmes in place.
Researchers have predicted that the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to increase by ten times the current amount within the next three years.
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