Last week, a dead sperm whale was discovered washed up near the shore of a popular tourist spot in Italy. The whale was pregnant at the time of its death, according to officials, and a necropsy revealed almost 50lbs of plastic waste in its stomach. News of the death comes only days after a whale near the Philippines was found deceased with similar stomach contents.
News of the whale’s stomach contents came from non-profit organization SeaMe, which reports that plastics included both marine industry waste like fishing nets and consumer waste like garbage bags, as well as items that could no longer be identified.
It hasn’t yet been determined what exactly killed the whale — an official conclusion will be announced after a toxicological test and histological examination, according to CNN. However, and quite tragically, researchers have already noted that the young whale was malnourished at the time of its death and that its fetus had aborted before that point.
The fetus was described as already being in an advanced state of decomposition at the time of the whale’s death. The plastic is believed to have caused the sperm whale to become malnourished, which then led to the loss of the fetus, ultimately causing the whale’s death.
The news of yet another deceased whale with a stomach full of plastic brings renewed attention to single-use plastics. Though some companies and cities have taken steps toward reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and bodies of water, consumers still largely consume these plastic items and then discard them.