Dead whale full of plastic

A dead sperm whale, which washed up on a beach on the Italian island of Sardinia last week, was found to have 23kg of plastic in her stomach.

The mixture of fishing nets, fishing lines, plastic plates, pipes and bags had blocked her intestines. Whether or not this killed her — and the calf found squished up in her womb next to the plastic — is still being checked by veterinarians.

Whales use echolocation to find food. That can be disrupted by plastic bags floating about. Their digestive system cannot break down plastic so it stays inside them if swallowed.

The European Union voted this week to ban single-use plastics, such as straws, from 2021. Countries around the world are following suit.

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Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is the acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

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