Nearly 20lbs of plastic found in dead whale's stomach

Christopher Davidson
June 8, 2018

The male pilot whale was found on Monday, May 28, struggling to swim in waters off the coast of Songkhla province, southern Thailand, near the Malaysian border.

Before its death, the whale spat out five plastic bags.

Vets removed more than 80 plastic carrier bags as well as crisp packets and sweet wrappers from the whale's stomach - and are now using the whale as an example of the damaging effect of plastic pollution while calling on authorities to find alternatives.

An autopsy found the bags and other plastic items in the whale's stomach.

The whale spit out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, the Marine and Coastal Resources Department said on its website. "Reducing our use of plastic, particularly single-use bags, is the first and biggest step we can take", said marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat. "At some point their stomach fills up with trash and they can't eat real food", Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director for Whale and Dolphin Conservation's North American operations, told National Geographic.

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Jatuporn Buruspat, head of the department, said they planned to raise public awareness of the problem on World Oceans Day on June 8 and call for reduced use of plastic.

As estimated by United Nations experts, the year humanity dumps into the ocean less than eight million tons of plastic.

Thailand is among the most active consumers of plastic bags. "We have no idea how many animals aren't showing up on a beach", Asmutis-Silvia said.

"We use way too much plastic". Environmental Protection Agency agrees, saying, "Following decades of uncontrolled dumping, some areas of the ocean became demonstrably contaminated with high concentrations of harmful pollutants including heavy metals, inorganic nutrients, and chlorinated petrochemicals".

Plastic pollution of killing thousands of marine animals every year. "We don't need food to be systematically wrapped in plastic, and we certainly don't need plastic straws or throwaway plastic coffee cups".

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