Sperm whale: death by 100 plastic bags

Nercropsy of a young sperm whale found

Tens of big compacted plastic bags used for garbage or construction materials, all kinds of plastic cover for anything we can buy in a supermarket, plastic ropes, pieces of nets, even a plastic bag with full address and telephone number of a souvlaki restaurant in the town of Thessaloniki.

The finally tally: 100 plastic bags in the sperm whale’s stomach, plus other debris!

... the researchers explain that young sperm whale’s are at greatest risk for eating plastic bags because they are still learning how to identify prey and plastic bags underwater probably look a lot like the large squid they like to eat. Although, they have also found dead adult sperm whales with plastic debris in their stomachs.

“Have you seen this in sperm whales before?...

Dr. Frantzis responded: “Unfortunately yes. Several times and in various cetacean species: sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and Rissos’ dolphins. All these species have something in common: they are mainly or exclusively squid eaters and deep divers. Except one beaked whale and one Risso’s dolphin that were found with their stomach completely or almost full of plastic bags (like that sperm whale), all other cases concerned a smaller quantity of plastic debris. However, we find plastic bags or other plastic products of human ‘civilization’ in an important percentage, more than 50%, of the stomach contents examined from the above mentioned cetacean species.”

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Replies to This Discussion

The Austin City Council has banned the use of plastic bags - this ban should go in affect soon.

So - there is hope for improvement.

We used to dive from Austin to El Paso and the tumbleweeds were a forest of windblown plastic bags. If they had been green, they would have looked like leaves of a plant, but they were earth-colored,  shredded and waving in the wind. 

Yeah - that's part of the reason for the "Don't Mess With Texas" commercials to stop those litterbugs.

I, too, have a growing hatred of plastic bags. I dug my compost out to the bottom this year, the first time in over 10 years and found many plastic bags, apparently thrown in full of kitchen trimmings which had decomposed into fine compost, but the bags were still able to hold water. 
The danger they pose to wildlife makes them unacceptable for use. I enjoy the convenience of plastic bags, but the harm is not worth the convenience. 




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