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Rare Whale Was Found With The Saddest Things Inside His Stomach

This HAS to stop happening 😭

A pair of flip-flops, 115 disposable drinking cups, four plastic bottles and 25 plastic bags. These were just a few of the items found inside a sperm whale who washed ashore yesterday on Kapota Island in Indonesia.

In total, more than 13 pounds of plastic were found inside the whale’s stomach.

Local officials who examined the whale described the situation as “truly awful,” although they couldn’t say with certainty if the whale died from the plastic itself.

However, Gary Stokes, director of Oceans Asia, a new ocean protection group, believes that the plastic ingestion would have definitely affected the whale’s health.

“Whether this plastic actually killed this whale is not clear, yet plastic often fills up the stomach, leaving no space for food,” Stokes told The Dodo. “This results in starvation and then death in many animals.”

Mark Simmonds, a senior marine scientist with Humane Society International (HSI), also thinks the plastic played a role in the whale’s death.

“For whatever reasons these huge and intelligent animals — which typically feed on deep sea squid and fish — are also swallowing plastic debris and this can block or otherwise damage their complicated gastrointestinal tracts,” Simmonds told The Dodo. “Other deep-diving whale species are also being found with lots of plastic materials in their stomachs and intestines and, whilst the data are scant, this would seem to reflect a high level of accumulation in the whale’s feeding grounds.”

Indonesia is currently ranked as one of the top five polluting nations in the world, along with China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a report made by Ocean Conservancy. Yet Stokes points out that the real culprit is single-use plastics — items like plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic cups that can’t be recycled.

“Sadly, as our addiction to single-use plastic continues, we will continue to see more fatalities,” Stokes said. “We need to first stop our daily convenience and addiction to single-use plastics. Stop the flow going in by turning the tap off, then we need to work on cleaning up what damage we've caused.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently ranks sperm whales as vulnerable to extinction. Besides plastic ingestion, they’re threatened by commercial fishing activities, agricultural waste and other contaminants in the ocean, and large shipping boats that strike and kill them.

But sperm whales are far from the only animals who are affected by plastic pollution. In June, a pilot whale was found with 80 plastic bags inside his stomach, and before that an olive ridley sea turtle made international news after being found with a plastic straw stuck in his nose.

“It should also be appreciated that this is both a conservation concern and also a welfare issue too,” Simmonds said. “Marine debris-generated internal wounds and blockages may be painful and suffering prolonged. This is another reason why we need to take further and urgent action to stop plastics entering the environment, including our seas and oceans.”

To help protect whales and other marine animals affected by plastic pollution, you can stop using single-use plastics, such as disposable plastic straws and cutlery. To learn more, visit the Ocean Conservancy’s website.