Wildlife

Plastic found inside beached whales

A post-mortem conducted on 13 beached sperm whales – found ashore near the town of Toenning in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, found their stomachs were filled with plastic.

This plastic included a 13m fisherman’s net and a 70cm piece of plastic from a car. But scientists believed the whales did not die because they ingested plastic, but rather that their hearts failed due to starvation.

Schleswig-Holstein environment minister Robert Habeck said: “These findings show us the results of our plastic-orientated society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer and, at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs.”

The whales were all male, between 10 and 15 years old, and severely underweight. They all weighed around 15t and the average weight of a sperm whale is between 32t and 41t.

Experts believe storms in the northeast Atlantic shifted the whales’ food source into the North Sea. The whales followed the food source and found themselves stranded in shallow water, where they starved to death.

This news comes after six dead sperm whales were found beached in Norfolk in February.

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