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Pollution continues to murder whales as their stomachs are found brimming with plastic

Plastic pollution

(NaturalNews) Since the beginning of this year, nearly thirty sperm whales washed up on the North Sea coast. Of these stranded animals, thirteen were found on a beach near the town of Toenning in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. An autopsy of these thirteen whales left scientists deeply disturbed.

The animals' stomachs were full of plastic debris, including a 43-foot-long fisherman's net as well as a 28-inch piece from a car and sharp remains of plastic buckets.

Some experts say violent storms in the north-eastern Atlantic pushed the squid into shallower water. The whales followed their staple food and eventually ended up on the German beach.

Starving with full stomachs

Ursula Siebert from the Hanover Veterinary College, however, believes these animals were starving and hadn't eaten anything but plastic in the days before they died.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said that, in spite of how much rubbish they found inside the intestines of the sperm whales, it was not the official cause of death. It is believed that the animals died of cardiac and circulatory failure. However, one could postulate that starvation certainly contributed to their untimely deaths.

She noted that all the animals were young males, aged between 10 and 15 and weighing between 12 and 18 tons. They didn't appear to have any issues with their internal organs and had a healthy number of parasites.

A 15-ton sperm whale needs about 1,000 pounds of food every day. However, the investigation found no evidence that they had eaten anything other than plastic since they left the Norwegian waters and entered the North Sea.

Rob Deaville, the project manager for the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, told The Telegraph that he has never dealt with so many stranded whales around the North Sea coast in 20 years.

"Historically we have had mass strandings but nothing of this scale for decades," he said.

Plastic oriented society

Schleswig-Holstein environment Minister Robert Habeck said these findings show us the outcome of a plastic-oriented society. He further added that animals inevitably eat plastic and other rubbish which make them suffer and die from starvation.

Not only the big food-sucking marine life has to cope with how we manage our plastic waste and are destroying the planet. As stated by Nicola Hodgkins of Whale and Dolphin Conservation in the True Activist, large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, but we shouldn't ignore the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all marine species.

It is said that about 80 percent of plastic waste dumped on land eventually ends up in the oceans where it is either eaten by marine life or floating around in massive garbage patches.

Sadly, this is not the first time animals were killed due to accidental ingestion of human debris. In 2011, a young whale was found dead near the coast of the Greek island of Mykonos. When they dissected its four stomachs, they found nearly 100 plastic bags and other pieces of trash.

A 2015 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites States of America reported that 90 percent of sea birds accidentally ingest plastic.

Marine pollution is posing a direct and severe threat to the balance of the marine ecosystems. Also, plastic microparticles are invading our food chain and threatening our wellbeing too. Until we get our plastic usage and pollution under control, animals and humans alike will suffer the horrible health effects of plastics, and we too will face starvation.

Sources for this article include:

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