In February 2018, the body of a dead sperm whale washed up on the southern coast of Spain. To determine the cause of death of the majestic 10-meter-long animal, experts from the El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center conducted an autopsy. The results of this review have just been revealed and they are heartbreaking. The stomach of the whale was found to contain around 64 pounds of plastic that included plastic bags, a jerrycan, and several pieces of rope and net, the Independent reports. After a full examination, it was agreed that the animal’s death was directly caused by his inability to expel the waste.
According to the experts’ theory, the blockage in the whale’s digestive system caused peritonitis – an infection of the abdomen that ultimately resulted in the animal’s death.
The results of the autopsy have inspired the government in Murcia, Spain to launch an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of single-use plastics.
“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 plastics that end up causing their death,” said Consuelo Rosauro, director-general of the natural environment in the Murcian government. “The region of Murcia is no stranger to this problem, which we must tackle through clean-up actions and, above all, citizen awareness.”
Unfortunately, the sperm whale’s death is another example of the lethal effects of ocean plastics. After all, what is 64 pounds compared to the 8.8 million tons of plastic that enter the oceans every year? It is also by no means the first time a whale died directly because of plastic.
There are certain conclusions that should be drawn from this and similar deaths – and, hopefully, they will be reached by more governments and, importantly, companies that are responsible for the major part of the plastic pollution we produce. Large-scale efforts to reduce plastic waste are working – the task at hand is to keep them up and develop further so that news about deaths caused by plastic pollution can finally become less of a norm.
To learn how you can help the planet by buying, using, and throwing away less disposable plastics, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlasitc campaign!
All image source: EspaciosNaturalesMur/Twitter