Published: Wed, November 21, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Dead sperm whale in Indonesia found with 6kg of trash in stomach

Dead sperm whale in Indonesia found with 6kg of trash in stomach

The makers of "Plastic Britain: On Our Watch" will claim that Britons tend to pass the burden of plastic pollution onto Asian nations where the evidence is more prevalent.

In just the latest reminder of the dangers of pollution in our oceans, a dead whale in Indonesia has been found with 13.2 pounds (six kilograms) of plastic waste in its stomach.

The exact cause of the whale's death is not yet known but there are signs that "plastic waste might have triggered it", WWF Indonesia marine species conservation coordinator Dwi Suprapti told AFP.

A man collects plastic items from a whale's belly in this picture obtained from social media.

Researchers from wildlife conservation group WWF and the park's conservation academy found about 5.9 kilograms of plastic waste in the animal's stomach - including 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.

Officials at Wakatobi park, where the sperm whale was found, said the carcass would be buried and the remains would be used for scientific purposes at a local marine research center.

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It wasn't possible to determine if the plastic was responsible for the death because of the advanced state of decay.

Wakatobi district, a picturesque collection of four main islands surrounded by a marine reserve, has urged Indonesia's central government to help tackle the problem of marine debris.

Almost half of the three million tons of mismanaged plastic waste produced in the country each year ends up in the ocean. Two other whales - at least that we know of - this year have also washed ashore dead with their guts full of rubbish.

Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs, Luhut Binsar Panddjaitan, said more needed to be done to create awareness about the impact of plastic waste in our oceans.

A 2015 report by Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment found that over 50% of the plastic leaking into world oceans comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, suggesting that the two whales died in unsafe waters for marine life. The overall aim is to reduce their plastic waste by 70 percent in the next seven years.

Pandjaitan has pushed the government to take tougher action on plastic to help protect our oceans.

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