In the shallow waters near the island of Sotra, Norway, a Cuvier’s beaked whale was stranded. Local officials and residents tried to herd or pull the marine animal back into the ocean. However, the whale just kept on swimming back to the cove. Realizing that the beautiful sea creature was only finding a place to die, the wardens decided to put it out of its misery.
Upon analyzing (through necropsy) the reason of the goose-beaked whale's erratic behavior, scientists uncovered something horrifying. They found around 30 plastic bags
and other trash inside the whale's stomach.
University of Bergen zoologist Terje Lislevand said that the whale has "no food, only some remnants of a squid’s head in addition to a thin fat layer. It wasn’t like it was in just part of the stomach. It filled up the whole space. It’s the explanation of why the animal acted so strange and stranded”. The whale has also shrunken, with very little blubber, suggesting that it was malnourished.
The plastics vary in size-- some of it still has its origins written, one was clearly used to contain a chicken from Ukraine, and another, a two-meter flimsy sheet. There was even a wrapper from Walkers Crisps, complete with the UK copyright and recycling symbol still intact.
“I’m afraid to estimate how long it could have taken before his stomach was totally full,” Lislevand said. “In this case the plastic particles accumulated and created a barrier in the system.”
The poor sea creature is another addition to the list of victims to die of plastic pollution. In 2016, more than 30 sperm whales were found dead on Europe’s shores, with their stomachs full of plastic waste. With numbers like this, drastic changes are needed in order to eliminate plastics in our oceans. According to the United Nations, around 8 million tons of plastic are being dumped in the ocean every year, equivalent to a truckload of garbage every minute.
The story of the Cuvier’s beaked whale is again a grim reminder
of our wrongdoing in this planet. Shame, shame, shame.