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Another Victim of Ocean Plastic
Waste plastic is a growing issue all over the world. Waste plastic is ending up in the ocean, rivers and streams and is causing harm to animals, sea life and habitats. Single-use plastic is one of the biggest causes of plastic pollution with an estimated one million-plus single-use plastic bottle being bought around the world every minute.
Whale Found Dead on Scottish Beach
A sperm whale was recently found dead on a Scottish beach with a stomach full of plastic, knotted into a lethal ball.
The whale, discovered by locals on the Isle of Harris was found to have a 100kg “litter ball” inside it and, while scientists do not yet know whether the plastic mass contributed to its death, those who live on the island said it highlighted the larger issue of plastic waste.
Among the items in the dead whale’s stomach were fishing nets, rope, packing straps, bags and plastic cups. The whale was young – a subadult – and it is not yet clear why the otherwise healthy mammal died.
Locals found it desperately sad to see the fishing nets and debris that came out of the whale’s stomach. No one knows the exact origin of the plastic found in the whale, but it only highlights the scale of the problem we have with marine pollution.
The plastic was found by the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), an organisation that investigates the deaths of whales and dolphins, who dissected the whale to try and determine its cause of death.
Horrific Amount of Plastic
SMASS reported that the animal wasn’t necessarily in poor condition, and whilst it is certainly possible that this amount of debris was a factor in its live stranding, they actually couldn’t find evidence that this had impacted or obstructed the intestines.
They still described the amount of plastic in the stomach as horrific and pointed out that it must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate yet again the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life.
The debris they found in the animal’s stomach seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors, and SMASS believe that it could have been swallowed at any point between Norway and the Azores – they are looking in more detail to see if they can work out quite why this animal ended up with so much of it in its stomach.
The War on Plastic Continues
Many are making an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic products while organisations such as The Ocean Cleanup are working tirelessly to pioneer methods of removing waste plastic that has already entered the ocean. However, the problem still exists and, until something drastic improvements are made, we will continue to hear stories of creatures that have suffered at the hands of plastic pollution.
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