80 plastic bags found in dead whale’s stomach
BANGKOK — A whale has died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags, officials said, ending an attempted rescue that failed to nurse the mammal back to health.
Thailand is one of the world’s largest consumers of plastic bags, which kill hundreds of marine creatures living near the country’s popular beaches each year.
The small male pilot whale became the latest victim after it was found barely alive in a canal near the border with Malaysia, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said on their Facebook page on Saturday.
A veterinary team tried “to help stabilize its illness but finally the whale died” on Friday afternoon, the post said.
An autopsy revealed 80 plastic bags weighing up to 8 kilograms in the creature’s stomach, the department added.
Photos accompanying the post showed a group of people using buoys to keep the whale afloat after it was first spotted on Monday and an umbrella to shield it from the scorching sun.
The whale vomited up five bags during the rescue attempt before it died, the department said.
Jatuporn Buruspat, head of the department, said they planned to raise public awareness of the problem on World Oceans Day on June 8 and call for reduced use of plastic.
“We will use the whale case and invite all sectors to show their intentions on how to reduce the use of plastic in Thailand,” he said.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University, said the bags had made it impossible for the whale to eat any nutritional food.
“If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die,” he said.
At least 300 marine animals including pilot whales, sea turtles and dolphins perish each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic, Thon said.
Globally, 8 million tons of plastic — bottles, packaging and other waste — are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, the United Nations Environment Programme said in December.
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