80 plas­tic bags found in dead whale’s stom­ach

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

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.

MAH­MUD HAMS / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Rel­a­tives mourn over the death of 21-year-old Razan al-Na­j­jar dur­ing her funeral af­ter she was shot dead by Is­raeli sol­diers, in Khan Yu­nis, on Satur­day.

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