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Whale euthanized after 30 plastic bags clog its stomach: researchers

Whale found with 30 plastic bags in its stomach
WATCH ABOVE: Norwegian researchers that put down a whale in distress last month have discovered at least 30 plastic bags inside the marine mammal.

An autopsy carried out on Thursday on a beached whale, which was found on the island of Sotra near Bergen last weekend, showed it had 30 plastic bags in its stomach as well as other plastic items.

The autopsy also showed that its intestinal system was completely emptied of food and all indications pointed it had been in pain.

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Several attempts were made to chase the six-metre-long Cuvier’s beaked whale back into the sea on Jan. 29, but eventually the whale had to be shot and it was later taken away to be examined.

“Here we have laid out the content. In volume, if you press all of it together, it all fitted in this box. But in total there’s around 30 different plastic bags as well as some flakes of plastic here, which is what the whale has eaten,” said zoologist Terje Lislevand.

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He said the longest of the plastic bits had been more than two-metres long.

“I think the whale has been in pain. I don’t think it’s been comfortable to have this in the stomach. I think that what lays here is the explanation of why the animal acted so strange and stranded on Sotra this weekend,” Lislevand said.

The whale’s intestinal system was devoid of food, Norwegian media said.

WARNING: Some of the following images are graphic. Discretion is advised.

In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, researchers from the university lay out plastic bags found inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, researchers from the university lay out plastic bags found inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, researchers from the university begin dissecting a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, researchers from the university begin dissecting a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, researchers from the university show plastic bags found inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, researchers from the university show plastic bags found inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, plastic bags are shown inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)
In this handout photo from the University of Bergen taken on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, plastic bags are shown inside the stomach of a two-ton whale that was beached in shallow waters off Sotra, an island west of Bergen, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Oslo. Norwegian zoologists have found about 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste in the stomach of a beaked whale that had beached on a southwestern Norway coast. Terje Lislevand of the Bergen University says the visibly sick, 2-ton goose-beaked whale was euthanized. Its intestine "had no food, only some remnants of a squid's head in addition to a thin fat layer." (University of Bergen via AP)

Lislevand said there were plastic bags from several countries in the whale’s stomach and called plastic waste in the oceans a “huge” international problem.

Experts have sounded the alarm over how plastic pollution kills huge numbers of seabirds and marine mammals and destroys ocean ecosystems.

Some plastic objects like discarded fishing nets, kill by entangling dolphins, sea turtles and other animals. Pieces of plastic frequently get stuck in the throats and digestive tracts of marine animals.