This young sperm whale washed up on a beach in Spain and scientists wanted to know why. They now know that waste: 64 pounds of plastic waste, along with ropes, pieces of net and other debris were lodged inside its stomach.
The whale that washed up was not only a young whale but it was unusually thin as well. When the necropsy results came back, scientists found that it had been eating trash rather than its normal diet of squid. The animal died of an abdominal infection called peritonitis and it just couldn't digest the waste that it had swallowed which caused its digestive system to rupture.
"The presence of plastic in the ocean and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, as many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large quantities of plastics that end up causing their death," Murcia's general director of environment, Consuelo Rosauro said in a statement.
Officials are concerned not only because sperm whales are endangered, but also because it's a grim reminder of how much waste we are dumping into our oceans and what it's doing to sealife.
Around 150 million tons of plastic is already floating in our oceans -- with an additional eight million tons entering the water annually and that figure is expected to triple within the next decade.