Marine biologists were shocked to find huge amounts of plastic in the stomach of a dead Whale last weekend. A post-mortem revealed the animal had died of gastric shock. Yet onlookers were left in disbelief at what proved to be the cause of this.
The vast majority of plastic found inside the whale’s stomach proved to be plastic bags. As well as many ‘regular’ shopping bags, there was 4 banana plantation bags and 16 rice sacks. It’s generally believed the whale had mistaken the waste material for jellyfish and squid. Food which they typically feed on and depend upon for survival.
The young Cuvier’s beaked whale was discovered washed ashore in Mindanao, the second-largest island of the Philippines. Measuring 4.7m in length, the whale was first spotted stranded near Mabini town in the Compostela Valley region near Davao. But attempts to release it back into open waters failed. Weak, dehydrated, and vomiting blood, the young whale died on Saturday March 16th.
Time For Action
Scientists from the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, Mindanao, carried out the autopsy. They later released a statement through their Facebook page, stating their total dismay towards their findings.
“Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters.”
Calling the discovery “disgusting and heartbreaking” and by far “the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale”, it’s clear that this is a growing problem. Darrell Blatchley, marine biologist and owner of the museum spoke of how this isn’t an isolated incident. Over the past 10 years, 57 dead whales and dolphins were found to have died through this same problem.
What marks this incident different is the sheer scale of their findings. Four months ago, a Sperm Whale washed up in Indonesia containing around 13lbs (almost 6kg) of plastic. Last summer, a whale found in southern Thailand had accumulated 18lb (8kg) of plastic. The 88lbs (40kg) of plastic found on Saturday, however, eclipses these findings by far.
Not Just An Asian Problem
Plastic pollution is known to be a huge problem in Southern Asia. While the Philippines has strict laws governing waste disposal, they’re poorly implemented by the authorities. High levels of single-use plastics and a lack of care for the environment are each partly to blame. What is needed more than anything else, is a change in mindset of the population at large.
To think of this as a problem only experienced in Asia is entirely misleading. Plastic pollution is a problem facing all major waterways across the world. Only last month, the San Diego SeaWorld centre was tracking a group of Sea Lions caught in plastic at La Jolla Cove.
Having banned the use of plastic and polystyrene foam from their food outlets in 2013, SeaWorld San Diego are hoping to help change people’s attitudes. Promoting awareness and responsibility of the environment has become integral to their core policies.