Stomachs of dead sperm whales found in Germany filled with plastics, car parts
Marine biologists were deeply saddened upon discovering 29 lifeless sperm whales around the shore of North Sea Island in Germany last week, and their grief heightened further after finding out what were inside the animals’ stomachs.
According to a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein, most of the whales had stomachs full of plastic debris—including a 13-meter-long fishing net, a 70-centimeter piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter.
The enormous marine creatures are believed to have mistakenly identified the items as food, such as squid, which is their main staple. Worse, the travesty is largely a result of humanity’s shocking disregard for marine life, which has resulted in an overabundance of plastics in the oceans.
“These findings show us the results of our plastic-oriented society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs,” Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, said in a statement.
Nicola Hodgkins of Whale and Dolphin Conservation echoed Habeck: “Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean–not just those who suction feed.”
The tragic incident was not the first time a sperm whale has been found dead with innards full of inedible contents. In 2011, a young whale was found floating dead off the Greek island of Mykonos, Greece. The poor animal’s stomach was so distended that biologists thought the animal swallowed a giant squid.
However, once its four stomachs were dissected, nearly 100 plastic bags and other pieces of debris were discovered. Khristian Ibarrola
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