Sperm whale stranded on beach found with 100kg of marine debris in stomach

Sperm whale stranded on beach found with 100kg of marine debris in stomach

whale belly
The sub-adult male sperm whale died after getting stranded on the sandbanks of Luskentyre Beach on Nov 28, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/SMASS)

ISLE OF HARRIS, Scotland: A dead whale found on a beach in Scotland had about 100 kg of nets, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing in its stomach.

The sub-adult male sperm whale died after getting stranded on the Isle of Harris on Thursday (Nov 28), two days before members of the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS), an organisation that investigates stranding incidents, got to it.

debris in whale stomach
Plastic rope and debris found in the whale's stomach. (Photo: Facebook/SMASS)

READ: 'Ghost' fishing gear: The rubbish haunting ocean wildlife

When SMASS found the whale, there was a huge ball of marine debris in its stomach.

“By the time we got to it had been dead for 48 hours and pretty much most of the guts blew out of the side when we stuck a knife in it," the organisation wrote in a Facebook post.

“In this whale’s stomach was approximately 100kg of marine debris ⁠— a whole range of plastic including sections of net, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing.

“All this material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of it it looked like it had been there for some time."

READ: No ifs or butts: Cigarette rubbish is littering Singapore's coastline

debris whale
Rope and what is believed to be monofilament tangle net was removed from the whale's stomach. (Photo: Facebook/SMASS)

net in stomach
Section of net recovered from the whale's stomach. (Photo: Facebook/SMASS)

"HORRIFIC" AMOUNT OF PLASTIC

The team did not find evidence that the amount of debris in the whale's stomach affected its intestines. 

"The animal wasn’t in particularly poor condition, and while it is certainly plausible that this amount of debris was a factor in its live stranding, we actually couldn’t find evidence that this had impacted or obstructed the intestines," SMASS said.

“This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific.

READ: Skipping plastic straws might not do much to stop marine pollution, experts say

men cutting up whale stomach
The whale's stomach containing ropes and other marine debris. (Photo: Facebook/SMASS)

“(It) must have compromised digestion, and serves to demonstrate, yet again, the hazards that marine litter and lost or discarded fishing gear can cause to marine life,” SMASS said, adding it believed the debris seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors.

The team is investigating why and how so much marine debris ended up in the whale's stomach.

Source: CNA/aa(mi)

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