Dead Whale Washes Ashore in Indonesia With Plastic Lump in Stomach

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 20, 2018World News

A dead whale that washed ashore in Indonesia on Nov. 19, had a large lump of plastic in its stomach, officials announced on Nov. 20.

Rescuers from Wakatobi National Park found the rotting carcass of a 31-foot sperm whale late Monday near the park after environmental activists alerted them that villagers had begun to butcher the carcass.

Park chief Heri Santoso said that researchers from the park’s conservation academy and the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) found about 13 pounds of plastic waste in the whale’s stomach.

The lump included 115 plastic cups, 25 plastic bags, and four plastic bottles.

More than 1,000 other pieces of plastic were found inside the stomach.

Infographic: The Countries Polluting The Oceans The Most | Statista

They also found six wood splinters, two rubber sandals, and one nylon sack.

“Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful,” Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation coordinator at WWF Indonesia, told the Associated Press.

Researchers couldn’t determine if the plastic caused the whale’s death because of how decayed the carcass was when it was found.

Santoso told the Jakarta Post that the whale’s body would be buried on Tuesday on Kolowawa Beach in North Kapota village. The remains would be studied by the local marine academy.

Pictures published by WWF Indonesia show the whale’s carcass being moved from water onto land and part of the chunk that was removed from the stomach.

Second-Largest Polluter

Indonesia, an archipelago of 260 million people, is the world’s second-largest plastic polluter after China, according to a study published in the journal Science in 2015.

Indonesia produces 3.2 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste a year, of which 1.29 million tons ends up in the ocean, the researchers said in the study.

“Unless waste management practices are improved, the flux of plastics to the oceans could increase by an order of magnitude within the next decade,” the researchers said.

According to another report, published the same year by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment and the Ocean Conservancy, more than half of the world’s plastic leaking into the ocean comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“As an immediate priority, we believe there is an opportunity to reduce plastic-waste leakage by 65 percent in these five countries—resulting in a 45 percent reduction globally—through measures including closing leakage points within the collection system, increasing waste-collection rates, using a variety of technologies to treat waste, and manually sorting high-value plastic waste,” the researchers wrote.

The measures would cost an estimated $5 billion a year, the researchers said.

According to marine researchers, marine animals can ingest plastic when mistaking it for food or accidentally consuming it along with their meal.

“This can create a lot of problems, ranging from mild discomfort to a dangerous blockage. Debris can fill up stomachs, causing an animal to feel full while depriving it of the nutritious meal it needs. In these cases, animals may starve with a full stomach,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Plastic waste also entangles animals and damages habitats, the American agency said.

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