A sperm whale that was found dead in a national park in eastern Indonesia on Monday had consumed more than 1,000 plastic items, the The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The 9.5-metre whale was found near Kapota Island, which is part of the Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi province. The park’s chief Heri Santoso said they found the rotting carcass after receiving a report that villagers were beginning to butcher the animal.
Researchers found 6 kg of plastic in the animal’s stomach. This included 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and several other plastic items.
“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation coordinator at World Wildlife Fund Indonesia said. She added that it was not possible to confirm if the plastic caused the death because of the whale’s rotting carcass.
Indonesia is second only to China in terms of plastic pollution. “I’m so sad to hear this,” said Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who has campaigned for a reduction in the usage of plastic. “It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives.”
The government has vowed to reduce usage of plastic by 70% by 2025. “This big ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy,” he added.
In June, a pilot whale died in Thailand after consuming at least 80 plastic bags. Thailand is one of the world’s biggest users of plastic bags.