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Dead Sperm Whale Found With 100Kg Ball Of Litter In Its Stomach

Dead Sperm Whale Found With 100Kg Ball Of Litter In Its Stomach

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

A sperm whale which died after it washed up in a Scottish shore had a huge 100kg ball of litter trapped inside its stomach, experts have said.

Members of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (Smass) were called to Seilebost beach on Thursday, after locals spotted the animal's carcass.

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The group investigates the deaths of whales, dolphins, basking sharks and marine turtles stranded on the Scottish coast.

After carrying out a necropsy, they pulled out fishing nets, rope, bags and plastic cups. And though it's not yet clear whether these contributed to its death, researchers posted photographs of the lifeless animal to its Facebook group, sharing their concerns for what this shows about the environment.

They said: "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.

Marine biologists cut open the dead whale to find its stomach was packed with rubbish. Credit: Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme
Marine biologists cut open the dead whale to find its stomach was packed with rubbish. Credit: Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme
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"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.

"The animal wasn't in particularly poor condition, and whilst 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.

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"This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific, 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."

It added: "It is also perhaps a good example that this is a global issue caused by a whole host of human activities. This whale had debris in its stomach which seemed to have originated from both the land and fishing sectors."

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They have yet to determine whether the debris contributed to its death, but specialists are concerned by the amount of plastic in the waters. Credit: Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme
They have yet to determine whether the debris contributed to its death, but specialists are concerned by the amount of plastic in the waters. Credit: Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

These concerns were echoed by local residents who raised fears over the rising pollution of the world's waters.

Speaking to the BBC, Dan Parry, who lives in nearby Luskentyre, said: "It was desperately sad, especially when you saw the fishing nets and debris that came out of its stomach.

"We walk on these beaches nearly every day and I always take a bag to pick up litter, most of which is fishing-related.

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"This stuff could have easily been netting or the like lost in a storm, we just don't know, but it does show the scale of the problem we have with marine pollution."

Sadly, this isn't the first case of a whale being found with rubbish inside its stomach.

In April this year, a pregnant sperm whale washed up dead on a tourist beach after having swallowed 22kg of plastic waste.

Featured Image Credit: Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

Topics: UK News, Interesting, Whale, Animals, Scotland

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]