Experts find 22kg of plastic inside stomach of pregnant whale washed up in Sardinia

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A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)
A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)

A dead sperm whale that washed ashore in Sardinia had 22kg of plastic in its stomach, the Italian environment secretary has said.

The pregnant mammal was found in the Porto Cervo area – which is popular with tourists – but it is not yet clear whether plastics caused the animal’s death.

Luca Bittau, president of the SeaMe group, told CNN the beached mammal’s remains contained “garbage bags … fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode … and other objects no longer identifiable.”

He added: “She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached.

“The fetus was in an advanced state of composition.”

A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)
A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)
A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)
A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)

Mr Bittau said the cause of death of the eight-metre long mammal would be known after histological and toxicological examinations carried out by veterinarians in Padua, northern Italy.

Sergio Costa, Italy’s environment minister, said in a Facebook post: “Are there still people who say these are not important problems? For me they are, and they are priorities.

“We’ve used the ‘comfort’ of disposable objects in a lighthearted way in the past years and now we are paying the consequences. Indeed the animals, above all, are the ones paying them.”

A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)
A dead pregnant sperm whale washed up on the shore in Sardinia was found to have 22kg of plastic in its stomach, according to Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment’s Sardinia team (SEAME). (Courtesy of SEAME Sardinidia)

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Mr Costa pointed towards the European Parliament’s approval of a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021.

He added: “Italy will be one of the first countries to implement it.

“The war on disposable plastic has begun. And we won’t stop here.”

Last month, a young whale was found dead in the Philippines with 40kg of plastic in its stomach.

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