(The picture is a representation of a dead whale from ingestion of plastic created by Greenpeace Philippines. Credit: Greenpeace Philippines)
By Jess Murray,
This is yet another shocking reminder of the ocean plastic pollution problem, as a dead sperm whale has been found with 29kg of plastic waste inside its digestive system.
Plastic bags and rubbish sacks were amongst the waste items found inside the 32ft whale that washed up on a beach in Spain. After the mammal was found in southeast Murcia in February, an investigation was carried out by the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Centre, who have now concluded that the whale died as a result of being unable to digest the huge amount of plastic waste inside its stomach and intestine.
The investigation also found that the whale weighed seven tonnes when it was found, which is in high contrast to the 45 tonne weight of an average male sperm whale, which ordinarily feeds on large squid, fish and sharks.
This eye-opening discovery has now prompted a campaign highlighting the dangers of dumping rubbish in the sea by the regional Murcia government, which is also backed by the EU’s European Environment Agency and the European Commission’s European Fund for Regional Development.
The environment director-general of Murcia, Consuelo Rosauro, said, “The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, since many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large amounts of plastic, which end up causing their death. The region of Murcia is no stranger to this problem, which we must tackle through clean-up actions and – above all – citizen awareness.”
According to reports, at least 30 sperm whales are known to have washed up on European beaches in the last few years, which includes 13 in northern Germany in 2016, intensifying the urgent need for us to act now on drastically reducing our plastic consumption, before it’s too late.
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I’m Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive.