June 3 (UPI) — A short-fin male pilot whale died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 17 of plastic bags and packaging.
Veterinarians removed more than 80 plastic bags from the whale’s stomach, said Jatuporn Burutpat, director-general to Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in a CNN report.
The whale, which weighed about 1,100 pounds and was nearly 15 feet long, died Friday afternoon.
It was spotted Monday floating abnormally near the border with Malaysia at the mouth of Khlong Nathap canal in tambon Nathap.
Government veterinarians and the Marine Resources Research and Development Center cared for the ailing whale.
While rescuers used buoys to keep it afloat in a rescue attempt, it vomited up five bags.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University, said in a Sky News report the whale was unable to eat any nutritional food because of all the kids in its stomach.
“If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die,” he said.
Thamrongnawasawat said at least 300 marine animals — pilot whales, sea turtles and dolphins — die each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic.
“It’s a huge problem. We use a lot of plastic,” he said.
The Thai government said it will seek to raise awareness about the problem during World Ocean’s Day on Friday, Burutpa said.
Around 70 per cent of all the litter in the oceans is made of plastic, according to a report from the United Kingdom Government Office for Science. And the majority of the litter originates from land with rivers.
“Plastic pollution can be harmful to wildlife, human well-being and to the economy in the UK, its Overseas Territories and internationally,” the report said.
“Plastics are persistent contaminants and while there is uncertainty about the absolute quantity currently in the environment, it is clear that in the absence of any actions both the quantity and the associated impacts will increase.”