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How This Whale Got Nearly 20 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach

Article Posted by National Geographic

By Elaina Zachos

Eighty shopping bags and other plastic debris clogged the animal’s stomach, making it unable to eat.

Last week, a small male pilot whale was found struggling, unable to swim or breathe, in a Thai canal near the Malaysia border. Rescuers fought to save the animal by deploying buoys to keep it afloat as veterinarians tended to it and propped up red umbrellas to protect its exposed skin from the sun’s rays.


The whale vomited up five plastic bags during the rescue attempt. It died on Friday, five days after the attempt began.


A necropsy revealed that more than 17 pounds of plastic had clogged up the whale’s stomach, making it impossible for it to ingest nutritional food. This waste was in the form of 80 shopping bags and other plastic debris.


Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s executive director for North American operations, says this case is emblematic of a larger problem with plastic polluting our oceans.


“We have no idea how many animals aren’t showing up on a beach,” Asmutis-Silvia says. “This is one pilot whale, this doesn’t consider other species. It’s symbolic at best, but it’s symbolic of an incredibly significant problem.” (Learn more about the plastic pollution crisis.)


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Kantis Cares is a 501(c)(3) inspiring people to live plastic-free, use products that are safe for our Earth, and to decrease waste with proper disposal for the health of our world.

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