October 23, 2019 | 12:11 AM IST

Sperm whale beached off with 22 kg plastic, decaying foetus

An evidence of growing threat to marine life got confirmation when a pregnant sperm whale with 50 pounds (22.67 kilograms) of plastic in her stomach beached off the Mediterranean Sea on an island in Italy last week.

The 26 feet whale and her foetus surfaced the vast Pelagos marine sanctuary that was created to be a haven for dolphins, whales and other sea life. A biologist with the University of Padova, Cinzia Centelegghe said, “It is for the first time we have been confronted with an animal with such huge quantity of garbage.”

When the scientists and veterinarians performed a post mortem on her, they found that the foetus had died and was in an advanced state of decomposition. Her intestines were jammed with plastic including a corrugated tube and twisted wires used for electrical works, plastic plates and pipes, shopping bags, detergent packages, etc, and the remains of squid.

The experts are of the opinion that plastic litters the deep ocean floor where the whales and other species go to eat and mistakenly gobble up plastic which resembles a fluttering squid.

Another sperm whale died off the Italian island of Ischia, near Naples, last December with plastic bags and a thick nylon thread in its stomach. Expressing concern, the World Wildlife Foundation have condemned the episode terming it as ‘devastating’ impact of plastic pollution on oceans and marine life and that between 150,000 and 500,000 tons of plastic objects and 70,000 to 130,000 tons of micro-plastic litters Europe’s oceans annually.

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