Pregnant whale euthanised on beach had plastic in stomach

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.

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.

Rescuers desperately tried to save a baby whale stranded in Port Phillip Bay, off Altona in May 2018. The distressed mammal was forced to be euthanased. Source: 7 News
Rescuers desperately tried to save a baby whale stranded in Port Phillip Bay, off Altona in May 2018. The distressed mammal was forced to be euthanased. Source: 7 News

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 death on our shores comes days after Thai authorities recovered 80 bags from a pilot whale’s stomach after trying to save it. Source: Getty Images (file pic)/ Department of Marine and Coastal Resources
The death on our shores comes days after Thai authorities recovered 80 bags from a pilot whale’s stomach after trying to save it. Source: Getty Images (file pic)/ Department of Marine and Coastal Resources

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.

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