Environmentalists in the Philippines on Monday said a starving Cuvier’s beaked whale, whose stomach was filled with 40 kg of plastic trash, died on Saturday after it washed ashore in Mabini town, AFP reported.
Government officials told the news agency that it died after it was stranded on the shore a day earlier. The animal reportedly died of “gastric shock”.
Darrell Blatchley, director of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc which helped conduct the examination, described it as disgusting and heartbreaking. “We have done necropsies on 61 dolphins and whales in the last 10 years and this is one of the biggest [amounts of plastic] we have seen,” Blatchley told AFP.
In a Facebook post, the organisation demanded that the government take action against “those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters”. The museum said they uncovered “40 kilos of plastic bags, including 16 rice sacks, 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags” in the whale’s stomach.
Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said local officials and fishermen had tried to release it but that the 4.7-metre-long whale returned to the shallow water on the shore. “It could not swim on its own, emaciated and weak,” regional bureau director Fatma Idris told AFP. “(The) animal was dehydrated. On the second day it struggled and vomited blood.”
The whale’s death follows a report released by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives which documented a “shocking amount of single-use plastic in the Philippines”. Activists have criticised the President Rodrigo Duterte-led administration of lax implementation of its garbage disposal laws.
There have been several instances in recent past of marine life being washed ashore and dying due to consumption of plastic. In November, a sperm whale was found dead after consuming more than 1,000 plastic items in Indonesia.
A report by Ocean Conservancy has said that China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic into the ocean than the rest of the world combined, according to The Guardian.