DAVAO, Philippines (CBS Local) — A young whale whose carcass washed up in the Philippines on Friday died of “dehydration and starvation” after consuming 88 pounds of plastic bags, scientists said.
The whale had been “vomiting blood before it died,” according to Darrell Blatchley, president and founder of the D’Bone Collector Museum, a natural history museum in the Philippine city of Davao.
The whale, found in Mabini, Compostela Valley, was taken to the museum for a necropsy and it was determined that it had died from ingesting plastic.
The museum said in a statement that this was the most plastic its team had ever seen in the stomach of a whale, and described the discovery as “disgusting.”
“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic,” Blatchley said. “Roughly 40 kilos of rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags and general plastic bags. Sixteen rice sacks in total.”
He added that cetaceans — a family of aquatic mammals that includes whales and dolphins — don’t drink water from the ocean but obtain their water from the food they eat. As the whale was no longer able to consume large amounts of food due to the ingested plastic, it died of “dehydration and starvation,” Blatchley said.
In the last 10 years, the museum has recovered 61 whales and dolphins of which 57 have died due to fishing nets, dynamite dishing and plastic garbage. It called on governments to take action against those who “continue to treat waterways and oceans as dumpsters.”
“Efforts must be stepped up worldwide to reduce plastics pollution in our oceans or this kind of tragedy may become far more common in the future,” said Mark Simmonds, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International.