Dead whale found trash hard to stomach
A young male sperm whale that was found dead off the coast of Spain had 64 pounds of garbage in its digestive system.
The 33-foot whale’s carcass surfaced in February near a lighthouse in Cabo de Palos on Spain’s southeastern coast.
A necropsy revealed the animal had trash bags, polypropylene sacks, ropes, net segments and a drum, among other things, in its stomach and intestines.
Local authorities said the animal died because of inflammation of the abdominal lining, or peritonitis. The amount of human trash in its system had become so enormous that the whale was unable to expel the garbage from its digestive system.
A picture by an environmental group showed what appears to be a severely underweight sperm whale. Authorities said the animal weighed 14,300 pounds or seven tons.
Male sperm whales, the largest toothed whales, could grow up to 90,000 pounds or 45 tons. Adult female sperm whales are much lighter — 30,000 pounds or 15 tons. They inhabit the deep ocean, can dive as deep as nearly 2,000 feet, and feed on large squid, sharks and fish.
After the whale’s death, government officials in Spain’s Murcia region, where the animal was found, launched a campaign to raise awareness of humans’ consumption of plastic and disposal of garbage in bodies of water.
Consuelo Rosauro, natural environment director in Murcia, said the presence of garbage in seas and oceans threatens wildlife because many marine animals get trapped in the trash and ingest large amounts of plastic, which can be fatal.
Officials said the campaign includes cleaning up beaches in the Murcia region, gathering data about the type and quantity of marine litter, and educational presentations.
A necropsy revealed the dead whale had trash bags, polypropylene sacks and a drum in its stomach and intestines.