A pregnant sperm whale found dead on an island in Italy carried nearly 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach, the nation’s environment minister and a marine life nonprofit said.
A resort worker found the whale late last week in Sardinia, the Telegraph reported, before researchers opened the whale to discover 49 pounds of plastic plates, trash bags, tarps and more inside.
The 26-foot whale was also carrying a dead fetus likely left malnourished due to the plastic in its stomach, per the newspaper.
“She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached,” Luca Bittau, president of the nonprofit SEAME, told CNN.
The discovery of this dead whale follows another whale found in the Philippines last month with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.
Mattia Leone, a marine biologist with SEAME, told the Telegraph that “we realized, yet again, we were bearing witness to this very worrisome, sad situation.”
Firefighters helped hoist the whale’s carcass on a truck before its transport for a necropsy over the weekend, the newspaper reported, and toxicology tests in the coming weeks will help researchers determine the exact cause of death.
SEAME, or Scientific Education and Activities in the Marine Environment, said workers spent all of Thursday addressing the whale and published photos on Facebook of where it was found.
The nonprofit said it plans to preserve the whale’s skeleton to raise awareness about the harms of plastics polluting the ocean.
Plastic makes up 95 percent of the waste in the Mediterranean Sea and on its beaches, a World Wildlife Fund reported last year, turning it into “a dangerous plastic trap.”
“Is there still someone who says these are not important problems?” said Sergio Costa, Italy’s environment minister, in a post detailing the whale on Sunday.
In his post, Costa noted a ban on single-use plastics backed by European Union lawmakers last week.
“The war on disposable plastic has begun,” Costa said. “And we won’t stop here.”
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