A Cuvier’s beaked whale that washed up on the shores of Norway on January 28th had to be euthanized after local authorities suggested the animal was too sick and malnourished to be saved.
After its passing, the whale was given to the University of Bergen for further study, where it was discovered that the unfortunate creature had eaten some 30 plastic bags and a large number of microplastics that researchers believe to be the cause of death.
Zoologist Terje Lislevand of the University of Bergen describes how the whale was likely in great suffering, which would explain why the creature became stranded numerous times on the west island coast of Sotra before finally being put down.
“The plastic was like a big ball in the stomach and filled it almost completely.”
Cuvier’s beaked whales have a diet that consists of squid and other deep-sea creatures, and this particular one is the first to have been documented in Norway. However, other whales all over the world have been found with several pounds of plastic in their stomachs, including 13 sperm whales near the coast of Germany who were even found with car parts inside of them
Experts believe that we will continue seeing aquatic and marine life dying from man-made plastics as more and more of it ends up in the world’s oceans. A January 2016 report estimates that Earth’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by the year 2050–a shockingly sad statistic should it come true in the next 30 to 40 years.
Seeker reported back in October of 2016 that plastics have even been found in sea creatures who typically live up to 2000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, giving us an idea of just how far-reaching plastics really are. And a 2015 study found that, even though most trash in the oceans comes from coastline city areas, waterways that are majorly inland also contribute to the ocean’s pollution.