Death of a sperm whale linked to greenhouses

By April 9, 2013Ocean News

It is very usual to see whales in spanish waters, as it is the only way for them to get into the Mediterranean sea. But seeing the whales being washed ashore is not that common. Last year, a dead sperm whale was found in southern Spain. At that moment, researchers of the Doñana Biological Station, run by the Spanish National Research Council, discovered a plastic canvas on its stomach, so it became a suspect of the whale’s death. Now, a year later, the same researchers confirmed it: the whale died from ingesting a huge amount of plastic in the ocean.

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It was a 4.5 tonne individual, and it had over 17 kg of plastic in its stomach! You can see in the picture above the biologists taking the 30 square meter plastic canvas. And a dozen meters of plastic rope, some plastic bags, even two flower pots! This is no joke, the whale has an entire greenhouse in its stomach. So the animal died from starvation, because there was no space enough for the food to get through its body…

The area where the sperm whale was found is near Almeria, which is completely full of greenhouses. Spanish people call it the “plastic sea”, because when you look at it, it’s shinning and you don’t know where the sea starts. You can see it from space…These greenhouses produce about 2,4 tonnes of plastic per hectare per year, and that’s a lot.

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Other animals like sea turtles or otters usually have problems with plastics, but it is unusual in large mammals. So discoveries like this one are really worrying. And as one of the researchers said, “these big plastics crumble and the little pieces also go inside fish. And that is what we end up eating.”

 Should we start to eat seasonal vegetables to reduce our necessity of greenhouses? Would it be a big effort?

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