Sperms whales are the largest of toothed whales, as well as the largest toothed predator on Earth.
While it might be hard to imagine something that could kill such a giant beast, these creatures are actually listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act and “depleted” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The greatest threat to sperm whales is the fishing industry. They die after becoming entangled in boats or colliding with ships.
But the second greatest threat to sperm whales is marine litter, like plastic. A dead sperm whale, that was filled with 13 lbs of plastic garbage in its stomach, recently washed ashore in eastern Indonesia.
The 31-foot whale was found to have consumed 115 cups, 25 plastic bags, plastic bottles, two flip-flops, and a bag with more than 1,000 pieces of string, according to National Geographic.
While the official cause of death has not been determined, experts were appalled by what they found inside the whale.
“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” Dwi Suprati, a marine conservation coordinator at World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, told the Associated Press.
Sperm whales normally eat giant squid, octopus, fish, shrimp, crab and small sharks.
However, since Indonesia is second on the list of the top 20 worst polluters of plastic trash to the world’s oceans— sperm whales will often ingest this ocean garbage.
A 2015 study found that 192 coastal countries put 8.5 million tons of plastic into the oceans every year.
“I’m so sad to hear this,” Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s minister of maritime affairs, told the Guardian. “It is possible that many other marine animals are contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”
Padjaitan, who says his country is aiming to reduce plastic use by 70 percent as of 2025, says he hopes that some good will come out of the death of the whale and help raise awareness of the problems caused by plastic waste.
However, the sperm whale isn’t the first whale to be found dead with a belly full of plastic. A dying pilot whale washed ashore in Songkhla near the Malaysian border in June 2017.
The whale ended up dying but not before it spit out five plastic bags. Another 80 bags and other pieces of plastic that weighed 17 pounds were later found inside of the whale during an autopsy.
Watch the video of the sperm whale below.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.
Follow your friends or be the first to join our group
Source: Nat Geo