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WARNING – Graphic images: A pregnant sperm whale has been found dead with 22 kilograms of plastic in its stomach, prompting a World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) warning over the dangers of plastic waste in the sea.
The garbage recovered from the eight-metre whale’s stomach included a corrugated tube for electrical works, plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines and a washing detergent package with its bar code still legible, the environmental group said.
The whale last week beached off the Italian northern coast of Sardinia, within the vast Pelagos marine sanctuary that was created as a haven for dolphins, whales and other sea life.
“It is the first time we have been confronted with an animal with such a huge quantity of garbage,” Cinzia Centelegghe, a biologist with the University of Padova, told the Turin daily La Stampa.
The exam also determined the whale was carrying a fetus that had died and was in an advance state of decomposition.
Experts said the mother whale had been unable to digest calamari due to the huge amount of plastic it had ingested, filling two-thirds of its stomach.
WWF said plastic is one of the greatest threats to marine life and has killed at least five other whales that had ingested large amounts of it over the last two years from Europe to Asia.
The foundation said between 150,000 and 500,000 tons of plastic objects and 70,000 to 130,000 tons of micro-plastics wind up in Europe’s seas each year.
Italy to ban plastic straws, other single-use products
To combat the phenomenon, the European Parliament last week approved a new law banning a wide range of single-use plastic products, including plates and straws, starting in 2021.
Italy’s environment minister, Sergio Costa, pledged the country would be one of the first to enact the European single-use plastics ban and appealed to the mayors of Italian cities and coastal towns to adopt the ordinances in advance of the 2021 law.
“We have been using disposable plastics in a carefree way in these years, and now we are paying the price,” he said.
“The war on disposable plastics has started. And we won’t stop here.”
A pregnant whale carcass washed ashore in Italy with 22kg of plastic in its stomach.
— WWF 🐼 (@WWF) April 1, 2019
Just two weeks ago a juvenile whale died after swallowing 40 kilograms of plastic bags, found in waters off Davao City in the Philippines.
Last November a sperm whale was found dead with more than 1000 pieces of plastic in its stomach, near the Wakitobi National Park in southeast Sulawesi province, eastern Indonesia.
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