Sperm whale found dead with 100 kilos of trash in its stomach

Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

A sperm whale which died after stranding on the Isle of Harris had a 100kg "litter ball" in its stomach.

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The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS), a group that researches marine animal death and the reasons why dolphin and whales become stranded, dissected the specimen on Saturday in hopes of determining a cause of death.

Parry said the whale's intestines had virtually nothing in them.

The group posted a dramatic video of intestines exploding from the animal's abdomen after a knife was inserted, due to a buildup of gases in the abdomen during decomposition.

The issue is becoming increasingly common, according to SMASS data. The marine veterinarians buried the animal once the necropsy was complete.

While the amount of garbage inside the whale was "horrific", the animal appeared to be in good health and wasn't malnourished, according to the post. But what researchers found inside was even more surprising: a 220-pound ball of trash inside its stomach.

Other grim examples of dead whales with bellies full of plastic have washed up on other countries' shores.

"If you go to the beach today, there should be nearly no evidence that there was a large sperm whale necropsy undertaken there this weekend", they wrote. (40 kg) of trash.

"We also now have research to suggest that the majority of plastic enters the ocean from a small geographic area, and that over half comes from just five rapidly growing economies-China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam", it said in a report published in 2018.

In the United Kingdom, stranded marine animals commonly have microplastic particles in their bodies, though it's unknown how this affects their overall health, researchers reported in January in the journal Nature.

"This whale had debris in its stomach which seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors, and could have been swallowed at any point between Norway and the Azores", SMASS representatives wrote on Facebook.

The organisation is now investigating why the animal ended up with so much debris in its stomach, from both the land and fishing industry.

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