Plastic pollution kills cetaceans: Pounds of plastic found in whales’ stomachs

"Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are killed by ocean plastic pollution every year, including single-use plastics and abandoned plastic gear from the fishing industry."

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Plastic pollution is killing cetaceans, including dolphins and whales. After ingesting massive amounts of plastic, marine mammals are dying of thirst and hunger.

Scientists from the D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao recently investigated a dead whale in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines, and found the young male Cuvier’s beaked whale died of “dehydration and starvation” after swallowing plastic bags, EcoWatch reported. Since marine mammals stay hydrated from the foods they eat, the animals are reportedly dehydrated because the plastic stops them from consuming large amounts of food.

“Hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are killed by ocean plastic pollution every year, including single-use plastics and abandoned plastic gear from the fishing industry,” Peter Kemple Hardy, World Animal Protection campaigner, said.

The scientists determined the young male Cuvier’s beaked whale had approximately 88 pounds of plastic bags found in its stomach including 16 rice sacks and many single-use shopping plastic bags, according to museum staff.

“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic,” Darrell Blatchley, D’ Bone Collector Museum President and Founder and marine scientist said.

But this wasn’t an isolated incident. A sperm whale in Indonesia was found dead with 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach, while a pilot whale died in Thailand after ingesting 17 pounds of plastic, Eco Watch reported. Overall, Blatchley said he has examined 57 whales and dolphins within the past 10 years that died from plastic consumption.

Plastic pollution is a major issue across the globe, but according to a study conducted by Ocean Conservancy in 2017 plastic pollution is greater in southeast Asia where it enters the oceans from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters,” D’ Bone Collector Museum said in a Facebook post.

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