Scientists Found 30 Plastic Bags in the Stomach of a Stranded Whale

The slow and painful death of yet another whale who died after consuming plastic trash has offered a heartbreaking reminder about how our actions are affecting wildlife.

The most recent case involved a Cuvier’s beaked whale in poor health who repeatedly tried to beach himself in Norway. Repeated attempts to return him to the sea failed and officials eventually euthanized him.

Scientists took his body to the University of Bergen, where they made a horrifying discovery. He had consumed 30 plastic bags, and had other plastic debris in his system.

“It wasn’t like it was in just part of the stomach. It filled up the whole space.” Dr. Terje Lislevand, a zoologist at the university, told Sky News. “I think the whale has been in pain. I don’t think it’s been comfortable to have this in the stomach.”

He added that the whale was emaciated, and likely hadn’t been able to eat for a while, and that the pain he was in was the likely explanation for his strange behavior.

More concerning is that the plastic items found had both English and Danish writing on them, which means some of that trash traveled a long distance before being consumed. Researchers believe in this case the whale had mistaken the bags bags for his favorite food – squid.

More concerning still is that this is hardly an isolated case, or a problem that’s specific to whales alone. Marine life from behemoth sperm whales and sea turtles to tiny baby birds and fish continue to die because we’re trashing their homes, especially with single-use plastic items.

With scientists predicting there will be more pieces of plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, the problem is only going to get worse if we don’t seriously change our consumption habits and improve our waste management systems.

If we want to save the whales, and other marine species, we’re going to have to do more  to ensure they don’t continue to die slow painful deaths as a result of our actions and love of convenience. Hopefully this tragedy and others like it will continue to help inspire more people to be mindful, opt for reusable products and support laws that will curb our use of unnecessary plastic.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

100 comments

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus6 months ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Melania Padilla
Melania P9 months ago

So sad, shared everywhere. Is is so hard to stop using plastic bags or reduce their use? Really, people with kids should care more about this planet and leave a clean planet for them....

SEND
Angela K
Angela K10 months ago

petition signed & shared

SEND
John Doucette
John Doucette10 months ago

Even if plastic bags were banned worldwide today, there's still thousands of tons of plastic in the oceans. Very little attention is being given to that. Never mind trying to figure out how to clean it up. Think the Pacific Garbage Patch that's as big as a sizeable country. Destroying the oceans and the life in them and we destroy ourselves.

SEND
M S
M S10 months ago

Surullista.

SEND
Jen S
Jen S10 months ago

How many more marine creatures must die before these plastics are no longer available? I use reuseable bags that I made of cotton canvas; they are strong, attractive, and don't kill whales, seals, sea turtles and other wildlife. And they last for years.

SEND
Janis K
Janis K10 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Margie F
Margie FOURIE10 months ago

I certainly hope that the people who dispose of their plastic do not know what they are doing. If they do - disgusting.

SEND
Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran10 months ago

so, so sad. i know its little but i don't ever ever buy plastic bags. in fact last week i forgot to take my reuseable bags to the store and almost lost an item because i ended up carrying all my items. i would rather that than know i bought something that could end up in a waterway and kill an animal.

SEND