For the second time in two weeks, a whale has washed up dead with plastic packed inside its stomach, wildlife officials said.
In the latest grisly discovery, off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, late last week, there were roughly 49 pounds of plastic inside the female sperm whale, along with a dead fetus.
“She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached,” Luca Bittau, president of the Italian environmental group SeaMe, told CNN of the whale. “The fetus was in an advanced state of [de]composition.”
The trash included garbage bags, fishing nets and lines, tubes, and a bag of washing machine liquid, Bittau said.
On March 16, people in the Philippines made a similar discovery, finding a dead whale that had 88 pounds of plastic inside its stomach. The whale had died from starvation and dehydration from all the junk it had swallowed, a marine biologist who participated in the necropsy told HuffPost at the time.
These two recent discoveries mirror similar whale deaths in Indonesia in November, in Thailand last June, and in Spain last April.
Italy’s environmental minister, Sergio Costa, shared photos of the latest dead whale on his Facebook page over the weekend, calling for a “war on disposable plastic” that begins with local bans.
“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,” he stated.
The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) also stressed the need for the world to take action.
“This is yet another painful reminder of the devastating impact that plastic pollution is having on our oceans and the terrible damage it is causing to marine life,” WWF said in a statement on Monday. “This is a global crisis that can only be solved if countries and businesses come together and accelerate progress towards a global and legally binding agreement on marine plastic pollution. We expect the EU and other progressive governments to take the lead on this.”
In a report published this year, WWF predicted that the amount of discarded plastic garbage will double by 2030 if we don’t take action. Nine million metric tons of plastic leak into the ocean each year because of waste mismanagement alone, according to WWF.
Last week, the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics, including plastic cutlery, straws, stirrers and lids.
In the U.S., lawmakers in New York are working to ban single-use plastic bags, mirroring a ban passed in California in 2016. All of Hawaii’s counties have also instituted anti-plastic-bag policies. Hawaii is also considering banning many disposable products from its restaurants, including styrofoam containers. Individual U.S. cities have also instituted plastic bag and utensil bans.
This story has been updated with a statement from WWF.