A killer whale that died after being stranded on a beach in South Africa revealed a nasty shock when experts looked inside her stomach.
The tragic orca was washed up at Plettenberg Bay on South Africa’s Western Cape the week before Christmas, but when wildlife experts managed to study the animal they found that her last few desperate days had forced her to dine on the only ‘food’ she could find – rubbish.
According to the Mirror, Plett Stranding Network co-ordinator Dr Gwenith Penry wrote:
This 5.7m female was starving! She had very little real food in her stomach and the stomach lining was disintegrating. We found several large pieces of plastic (yoghurt pots, shoe sole, food wrappers), seagrass and a lot of tubed organisms (yet to be identified). All of this suggests that she was trying to feed in the shallow areas of our bay.Advertisement
Organ and blood samples have yet to be analysed for toxicology, pathology and micro-plastics, but the stomach contents do give a good idea of the animal’s last days.
According to Dr Penry, killer whales off South Africa typically only feed on mammals like seals and dolphins or large fish and squid, so it is likely that this female became ill and too weak to hunt with the rest of her pod and so moved inshore and tried to feed on what was available before becoming stranded.