April 16, 2018 9:49 pm
Updated: April 16, 2018 10:10 pm

Sperm whale washes up on Spanish beach with 29 kg of plastic inside it

This plastic was found inside the stomach of a sperm whale that washed up on shore in Spain.

Twitter / @EspaciosNaturalesMur
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Over 29 kilograms of man-made plastic was found in the stomach of a sperm whale that washed up dead on a beach at Cabo de Palos, Spain, earlier this year.

According to government officials in the region, the large amount of plastic bags, mangled rope, glass, and “sacks of Raffia,” which is a material made from palm trees, and even a drum, gave the whale peritonitis, an inflammation of the stomach lining which ultimately killed it.

The whale, which was a young male, can grow to weigh around 40,000 kg, but appeared severely under-nourished. Officials say it was only 6.5 tons in weight.

A sperm whale that washed up dead on a beach at Cabo de Palos, Spain, earlier this year was severely malnourished.

Twitter / @EspaciosNaturalesMur

It’s a stark reminder of the damage plastics in the ocean can do.

READ MORE: ‘So much plastic’: Diver’s video captures garbage-filled waters off Bali coast

“The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world,” said Consuelo Rosauro, the general director of the natural environment ministry of the Murcia region.

The incident prompted an awareness campaign and a drive to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Spaniards will band together to clean up 11 beaches.

READ MORE: Whale euthanized after 30 plastic bags clog its stomach: researchers (2017)


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Sperm Whales are recognized as endangered by the country, but officials say the plastic also affects dolphins, turtles and other whales in the region.

The World Economic Forum says that more than 311 tons of plastic was in the ocean in 2014 – and is expected to double in the next 20 years.

READ MORE: Before-and-after photos show ‘grotesque’ amount of plastic on uninhabited island

Advocacy organization Plastic Oceans reports that an estimated eight million tons of plastic is thrown into the bodies of water each year. Much of the trash is commonly-used items such as disposable water bottles and plastic bags.

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