A starving juvenile whale has died after ingesting 40 kilograms of plastic bags, sparking calls from conservationists for action against those who continue to dump rubbish into rivers and the sea.
The 4.7-metre-long male Cuvier’s beaked whale was spotted when it became stuck in waters off the coast of the Philippines on Saturday morning.
It was dehydrated, emaciated and had been vomiting blood.
The whale died not long after and marine biologist Darrell Blatchley and his team rushed to recover the carcass to begin investigating the cause of death.
“Upon reaching the stomach I knew this whale had died due to plastic ingestion,” he said.
“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic.”
Inside the whale he found 16 rice sacks, four banana plantation bags and many grocery and general plastic bags.
So much plastic was in its stomach, and had been there for a such long time, that the young whale had died of dehydration and starvation.
“This whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale. It’s disgusting,” Mr Blatchley said.
“It was so bad the plastic was beginning calcification.”
The Philippines is ranked among the world’s worst countries for plastic pollution, Mr Blatchley said.
“The Philippine people are a proud people, sadly it’s not in being clean or taking care of the environment,” he said.
In the past decade Mr Blatchley, who runs the D’Bone Collector Museum, has recovered 61 whale and dolphin carcasses.
He said 57 animals, including four pregnant ones, had died from fishing nets, dynamite fishing and plastic.
“Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters,” he said.
“The Philippines needs to change from the children up or nothing will be left.”