A young sperm whale has been found dead on a beach with its stomach full of plastic.
Unfortunately, stories of dead marine animals washing up on shores after swallowing lots of plastic are becoming less and less unusual.
Although efforts are being made to reduce the amount of single-use plastic products which are produced, for example with England’s upcoming ban on plastic straws, there is still a long way to go, and animals are still suffering because of the actions of humans.
Last week, Greenpeace Italia shared eye-opening photos of the young sperm whale, which had washed up on the beach at Cefalu, a popular tourist destination in Sicily.
The animal was estimated to be around seven years old, and its stomach was full of plastic bags and other plastic objects. Sperm whales usually live for around 70 years.
After the whale was found, Giorgia Monti, campaign manager for Greenpeace Italia, spoke about the tragic discovery in a statement.
What was found two days ago on the beach of Cefalù was a young sperm whale about seven years old. As can be seen from the images we spread, a lot of plastic was found in his stomach.
Monti said that an investigation is underway regarding the animal’s death, and that it is not yet clear whether the whale died from swallowing the plastic. However, she added ‘we certainly cannot pretend that nothing is happening’.
Five sperm whales have been found beached on Italian coasts in the last five months. In March, a pregnant female whale was found in Sardinia with 22 kg of plastic in its stomach.
Carmelo Isgro, who works at the University of Messina’s natural history museum, was involved in the necropsy of the most recently discovered whale and told CNN there were ‘several kilograms worth of plastic’ inside its stomach.
The plastic probably created a block that didn’t let the food in. That’s very likely to be the cause of death. We have not found signs that could indicate another possible reason.
I’m still shocked because her belly was completely full, swollen with plastic.
Greenpeace campaign manager Monti added:
The sea is sending us a cry of alarm, a desperate SOS. We must intervene immediately to save the wonderful creatures that inhabit it.
It’s devastating to see these amazing creatures suffering because of humans; we need to do all we can to prevent our waste from damaging the lives of helpless animals.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.