DAVAO, Philippines - A juvenile 15-foot whale was found washed ashore in the Philippines with more than 80 pounds of plastic trash inside its body, according to a team at a local natural history museum.
Staff at the D’ Bone Collector Museum picked up the whale from a beach in the southern Philippines and were met with a grisly discovery when they performed the necropsy of the marine mammal.
“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic. 40 kilos roughly of rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags and general plastic bags. Sixteen rice sacks total,” Darrell Blatchley, President and Founder of the D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao, said.
Blatchley and his team were notified the morning of March 15 that the young whale had washed ashore in the Mabini Campostela Valley, where the team recovered the animal.
Upon his arrival at the scene, Blatchley noticed that the whale showed signs of emaciation and dehydration.
The whale was transferred to the museum’s facilities and a necropsy was performed in order to find a direct cause of death.
“Upon reaching the stomach I knew this whale had died due to plastic ingestion,” Blatchley said.
Blatchley said there was so much plastic, some of it began to calcify.
Unfortunately, Plastic remains an all-too-common threat to marine life. National Geographic reported in November 2018 that a sperm whale was discovered washed ashore in eastern Indonesia with a gruesome amount of plastic trash found in its body.
Earlier the same year, another whale was found in southern Thailand struggling to swim and breathe.
The whale had vomited up multiple plastic bags during a rescue attempt, according to National Geographic.
According to a report published in Science Magazine in 2015, 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons entering the ocean.
Blatchley explained that cetaceans, which are aquatic mammals such as whales or dolphins, don’t drink water from the ocean but rather get access to fresh water from the food they consume. Because the whale had consumed so much plastic that it wasn’t able to digest, making it impossible to eat more food, the cause of death was likely starvation and dehydration.
“This country ranks the second most plastic pollution for the world,” Blatchley said of the Philippines. In the past 10 years, Blatchley said his team had recovered 61 whales and dolphins, 57 of which had died from fishing nets, dynamite fishing and plastic garbage. Four of those animals were pregnant, Blatchley said.
“This cannot continue. The Philippines needs to change from the children up or nothing will be left,” Blatchley said.