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Whale found dead with 100kg ‘litter ball’ in stomach

‘The amount of plastic in the stomach is horrific, must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate the hazards marine litter can cause to marine life,’ say experts

Kate Ng
Monday 02 December 2019 13:28 GMT
A sperm whale was found with a ball of litter in its stomach weighing 100kg
A sperm whale was found with a ball of litter in its stomach weighing 100kg (Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme)

Fishing nets, ropes, bags, plastic cups, and gloves are just some of the items that have been found in the stomach of a sperm whale stranded on a beach.

The whale was found dead on the Isle of Harris, Scotland, on Thursday by locals, reported the BBC.

Experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, which investigates the deaths of whales and dolphins, said there was no evidence that the 100kg “litter ball” had “impacted or obstructed the intestines”.

But they said the discovery of so much plastic pollution in its stomach was “nonetheless horrific”, and most likely “compromised digestion”.

“This amount of plastic… serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life,” the group added.

The ball was made up of land and fishing waste and could have been consumed by the whale at any point between Norway and the Azores.

The number of cetaceans being stranded on UK shores has risen, with 1,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises found washed up in 2017 alone.

Figures from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) reveal that a total of 4,896 animals died on beaches between 2011 and 2017, a 15 per cent increase compared to the previous seven years.

On Friday, a minke whale washed up in the River Thames under Battersea Bridge, the second to be found dead in two months after a humpback whale was found dead in Greenhithe in October.

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