Sperm whale killed by plastic

This video says about itself:

A baby sperm whale learns to swim alone while its mother hunts deep below.

After the young minke whale, dead in Belgium … now, from Wildlife Extra:

Spanish Sperm whale killed by plastic debris

10 metre long male Sperm whale had more than 8 kilograms of plastic in gut – Our thanks to Renaud de Stephanis of the Spanish Cetacean Society

March 2013. Marine debris has been found in marine animals since the early 20th century, but little is known about the impacts of the ingestion of debris in large marine mammals. In 2012, a dead Sperm whale was found on a beach in southern Spain. The whale weighed around 4500 kg, and seemed to be in a state of advanced emaciation. There was no evidence of entanglement scars or other injuries.

Large mass of compacted plastics

During inspection of the abdominal cavity, squid beaks were found on the exterior portion of the small intestine, and inside the stomach compartments. A large mass of compacted plastics could be seen protruding through a rupture in the first stomach compartment. No fresh remains of squids were recovered. The intestines were empty. Cause of death was presumed to be gastric rupture following impaction with debris, which added to a previous problem of starvation. All of the plastic pieces and other debris were recovered. The matching of the sperm whale’s fluke revealed that the animal had not been photographically matched before in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sperm whales feed near centre of greenhouse industry

The spatial distribution modelled for the species in the region shows that these animals can be seen in two distinct areas: near the waters of Almería, Granada and Murcia and in waters near the Strait of Gibraltar. The results shows how these animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place.

Most types of these plastic materials have been found in the individual examined and cause of death was presumed to be gastric rupture following impaction with debris, which added to a previous problem of starvation.

Plastic debris found in the stomach coming from greenhouse: (a) flower pot, (b) hosepipe, (c) greenhouse cover material, (d) plastic burlap, (e) rope, and (f) plastic mulch of greenhouse.

Greenhouse cultivation

Greenhouse cultivation has spread rapidly over the last few years in many regions, in particular in the Mediterranean Basin countries, where the mild winter temperatures allow the production of low-cost vegetables all year round. In western Almeria (Andalucía) approximately 25,902 ha of crops were grown under plastics in the 2005 season. In the same way as in Almeria, this type of culture is beginning to flourish slowly in the regions of Murcia and Granada.

2 flower pots & large amount of plastic covering found inside the whale

Greenhouses use many plastic materials … . Interestingly, most types of these plastic materials have been found in the individual examined, starting with two flowerpots. The main debris found in the animal (26 items totalling more than 8.1 kg and a total surface of 29.9 m2) was identified as the plastic cover material of greenhouses, which is typically transparent.

Full study paper – de Stephanis, R., et al. As main meal for sperm whales: Plastics debris. Mar. Pollut. Bull. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.01.033

Sperm whale stranded in Belgium: here. Another Belgian sperm whale: here.

A whale found in Thailand died from eating more than 80 plastic bags.

Seals and plastic: here.

A new study has discovered that 94 per cent of Cory’s shearwaters on the Catalan coast have ingested plastic. In the case of Yelkouan and Balearic shearwaters, the conclusion is that 70 per cent of studied birds were similarly affected. Jacob González Solís from the Department of Animal Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona (UB), headed a research group that carried out the study, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin: here.

Teen Inventor Develops Way To Rid Sea of Plastic: here.

Using nets designed to catch Chinese mitten crabs, scientists have found more than 8,000 pieces of plastic submerged along the riverbed of the upper Thames estuary during a three-month trial to assess river pollution. Dr Paul Clark from the Natural History Museum said: “The unusual aspect of the study is that these nets are originally designed to trap fish and crabs moving along the river bed, so we can see that the majority of this litter is hidden below the surface. The potential impacts this could have for wildlife are far reaching: not only are the species that live in and around the river affected, but also those in seas that rivers feed into: here.

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