WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: A sperm whale has been found dead, washed ashore with more than 1000 pieces of plastic in its stomach.
The 9.5-metre whale was found late Monday near the Wakitobi National Park in southeast Sulawesi province in eastern Indonesia.
Park chief Heri Santoso said villagers were beginning to butcher the rotting carcass.
He added WWF researchers found 5.9 kilograms of plastic in the whale’s stomach including 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two thongs, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.
WWF Indonesia’s Dwi Suprati said while researchers weren’t able to ascertain how the whale died the find is “truly awful”.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs, said the whale’s discovery should raise public awareness about the need to reduce plastic use, and had spurred the government to take tougher measures to protect the ocean.
“I’m so sad to hear this,” he said.
“It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”
He said the government is making efforts to reduce the use of plastic, including urging shops not to provide plastic bags for customers and teaching about the problem in schools nationwide to meet a government target of reducing plastic use by 70 per cent by 2025.
“This big ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy,” he told The Associated Press.