A 46-foot young sperm whale was found dead on a Scottish Island with 220 pounds of trash in its stomach.
According to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS), the sperm whale weighed 26 tons.
The sperm whale washed up on the shore of Seilebost Beach on the Scottish Isle of Harris. The whale was discovered by Dan Parry who is an administrator of a Facebook page dedicated to keeping the nearby Luskentyre Beach clean.
A necropsy was conducted by SMASS who found fishing nets, plastic cups, tubing, bundles of rope, plastic bags, and other assorted trash in the whale’s stomach.
“All this material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of it looked like it had been there for some time,” SMASS wrote in a Facebook post published on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019.
SMASS added that the whale was no in poor condition and it could not be confirmed that the garbage in the sperm whale’s stomach contributed to the stranding or starvation of the whale.
According to SMASS, it is not clear what resulted in the excess trash found in the whale’s stomach. The garbage “seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors.”
Additionally, SMASS stated that the discovery of the sperm whale “serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life.”
Parry stated that the sperm whale’s intestines were virtually empty.
“The issue of pollution, plastics and ocean debris is a worldwide issue that needs action. We all need to use less plastic but also get involved in cleaning up what is already out there. Too many people turn a blind eye to it thinking it’s someone else’s problem,” Parry told USA Today in a Facebook message.
SMASS buried the sperm whale on-site after conducting the necropsy. “If you go to the beach today, there should be almost no evidence that there was a large sperm whale necropsy undertaken there this weekend.”
The juvenile whale died on Thursday, Nov. 27, in the Outer Hebrides.
SMASS collates data on stranded marine animals around Scotland.
This is not the first time this year a dead whale was discovered to have trash in its stomach. In March, here was a dead whale discovered in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic garbage in its stomach.
Millions of metric tons of plastics are poured into the oceans a year, and only 90.5 percent of plastic is not recycled.
By Jeanette Vietti
USA Today: Whale found dead with a 220 pound ‘huge ball’ of garbage in its stomach
CNN: Sperm whale found dead with 220 pounds of trash in its stomach
Image Courtesy of Dunphasizer’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License