88 pounds of plastic found in dead whales’ stomach
In the beginning of March 2019 on one of beaches in Philippines dead whale was found and what was inside him shocked the world. It was 88 pounds (that is almost 40 kilograms) of plastic waste. Plastic is huge threat to marine wildlife, but this amount is the record.
Whale was 4.5-meter-long and weighted almost 500 kilograms. There were different kind of plastic waste inside the mammal. Some places it even became calcified, formed like hard brick. It is indigestible material and fooled animal by giving false sensation of fullness without any nutrition. That leaded to weight, energy loss, malnutrition.
Most cases show that animal cannot eat so much plastic, that it will kill it, but effects can cascade. It is like diet when you are eating every day 10 calories less and it adds up, if you do this all your life it can escalate and be bad for your health. The same with animals.
No matter how clean a place might be, if you search for garbage, you are going to find it. Water around the Philippines is perfect for a lot of marine animals, but country is polluting earth with plastic more than any other. Even though this country has a lot of laws which tries to prevent pollution and fines are thousands of dollars, situation is not getting better. Country has seven thousand islands which are hard to manage, because everywhere if item is made from plastic, it is cheap, and demand is very high.
61 dead whales were found dead close to Davao Gulf. 45 of them died because of plastic. Because of heavy fishing in the region, there is not enough food for bigger marine animals. That means that they are likely to eat plastic which is floating around. This is so tragic because it is becoming a norm that whales are going to die from what people did, not from natural causes.
This whale was far from alone
Not just whales are suffering, but there are a lot of others, like dolphins, birds and fish – all found dead because they ate plastic. Scientists researched that in 2015 almost 90% of seabird population consumed some amount of plastic and around one hundred thousand marine mammals die because of plastic pollution every year.
In February there was another whale found on the shores of Spain which has 64 pounds of waste inside him, in June in Thailand there was another one which consumed 18 pounds of trash. In Indonesia there was a whale who ingested 13 pounds of just plastic and other materials.
This whale’s death and others brought focus back to this problem. Based on the same study in 2015 Philippines is the 3rd biggest contributor in plastic pollution followed by China and Indonesia. President of WWF said that no single factor is causing Philippines to outsize plastic pollution, because how cheap and accessible it is, and recycling is a big challenge and hard to implement. One solution to this is to start from individual people and consumption. We are wasting much more than we should, so using less leads to fewer trash.