A male sperm was recently found dead with over 220 lbs. of debris in its stomach.
Members from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS) were called upon to investigate a deceased sperm whale found on Scotland’s Luskentyre Beach.
When they arrived on the scene 48-hours-later, the experts dissected the animal to attempt to figure out what exactly was the cause of death. And in a Facebook post, they said it was not clear if the “litter” did or did not contribute to the whale’s death.
“In this whale’s stomach was approximately 100kg [220 lbs.] of marine debris — a whole range of plastic including sections of net, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing,” the post read. “All this material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of 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,” the post continued. “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.”
The locals who originally found the carcass called the SMASS, informing the BBC how marine pollution was constant issue in the area.
“We walk on these beaches nearly every day and I always take a bag to pick up litter, most of which is fishing-related,” shares local, Dan Parry. “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.”
The waste found in the whale’s stomach, according to the SMASS, likely came from both the “land and fishing sectors.”
But SMASS is not finished with their investigation quite yet.
“We are looking in more detail to see if we can work out quite why this animal ended up with so much of it in its stomach,” their post read.