by Amanda Froelich,
Once again, humans are responsible for the untimely death of a sperm whale. This time, the deceased mammal washed ashore near Indonesia’s Wakatobi National Park. After conducting an autopsy, officials found more than 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach, including 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, and a nylon sack.
“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 coordinator at WWF Indonesia. Suprapti added that it was not possible to determine if the plastic was the cause of death due to the animal’s advanced state of decay.
According to The Guardian, Indonesia is one of the most polluted countries in the world, second only to China. Each year, the archipelago of about 260 million people produces 3.2 million tons of plastic waste. A study published in the journal Science this January estimates that 1.29 million tons of the rubbish end up in the ocean.
To tackle the issue, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs, says the country aims to reduce its plastic waste 70 percent by 2025. Conservation and the dangers of pollution will also be taught about in schools.
“I’m so sad to hear this,” said Pandjaitan, who has campaigned to reduce plastic waste. “It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”
“This big ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy,” he told The Associated Press.
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