Philippines – A young beaked whale died after consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags, scientists have found. It was the worst case they have ever encountered of an animal killed by plastic.
The Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) was found on the shores of Sitio Asinan in the Philippines on Saturday morning, and an overnight examination on Saturday confirmed that it had died of starvation and dehydration because of the plastic.
Marine biologist and environmentalist Darrell Blatchley told CNN that the juvenile male Cuvier’s beaked whale was found “showing signs of being emaciated and dehydration” and had been “vomiting blood before it died.”Blatchley, who is president and founder of D’ Bone Collector Museum, a natural history museum in the Philippine city of Davao, said his team received notification on Friday that the carcass of the whale had been found in Mabini, Compostela Valley.
The team subsequently took the carcass to its facility and performed a necropsy, which found that it had died from ingesting plastic.
The whale died of dehydration and starvation after being left unable to obtain sufficient water from its food, Blatchley said.”I was not prepared for the amount of plastic,” Blatchley said.
“Roughly 40 kilos of rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags and general plastic bags. Sixteen rice sacks in total.”He noted that there were so many plastic bags in the animal’s stomach that some had begun to calcify.
He added that cetaceans — a family of aquatic mammals that includes whales and dolphins — don’t drink water from the ocean but obtain their water from the food they eat. As the whale was no longer able to consume large amounts of food due to the ingested plastic, it died of “dehydration and starvation,” Blatchley said.
The D’ Bone Collector Museum said in a statement that this was the most plastic its team had ever seen in the stomach of a whale, and described the discovery as “disgusting.”The museum called on governments to take action against those who “continue to treat waterways and oceans as dumpsters.”