Dead whale found trash hard to stom­ach

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Kris­tine Phillips

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.

MUR­CIA RE­GIONAL GOV­ERN­MENT

A necropsy re­vealed the dead whale had trash bags, polypropy­lene sacks and a drum in its stom­ach and in­testines.

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