Plastic rubbish had blocked the stomach of a pregnant whale that washed up on a beach in Melbourne’s western suburbs, an autopsy has revealed.
The 2.4m pygmy sperm whale was spotted in distress on a beach at Williamstown in late May and euthanised after rescue attempts failed.
An autopsy showed the whale’s stomach had become impacted by plastic and kelp, the state’s environment department said on Thursday.
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The whale had ingested plastic that blocked its stomach outflow, and it’s suspected it then ate kelp – which is not typical of its species – as it felt unwell.
The results have prompted the department and Melbourne Zoo to urge people to dispose of rubbish properly.
“These findings are a huge reminder of the devastating impacts human waste has on our wildlife,” department senior wildlife officer Suriya Vij said.
The whale’s condition had rapidly deteriorated after it was spotted by a commercial fisherman washed up in the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary on May 21.
Authorities and veterinary staff had tried to take the whale into deeper waters but it was unable to swim unaided.
It was euthanised after rescuers tried unsuccessfully for hours to save it.
The autopsy results come after a small male pilot whale died in southern Thailand last week, after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags.
The earlier autopsy revealed 80 plastic bags weighing up to eight kilograms in the creature’s stomach.