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88 Pounds of Plastic Were Found Inside a Dead Whale in the Philippines

Hillary Leung

A whale that washed ashore in a coastal Philippines province was revealed to have 88 pounds of plastic trash inside its body, New York Times reports.

The 1,100-pound whale, found Saturday in the town of Mabini, had more than 40 pounds of plastic bags inside its stomach. D’Bone Collector Museum, a nonprofit organization that aims to retrieve and preserve wildlife, identified the mammal as a male curvier beaked whale in a Facebook post.

“This whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale. It’s disgusting,” the post read.

The museum added that they also found 16 rice sacks, four banana plantation-style bags and multiple shopping bags during the necropsy.

“The plastic in some areas was so compact it was almost becoming calcified, almost like a solid brick,” Darrell Blatchley, president of the museum, told the Times.

In April 2018, a 33-foot sperm whale was found dead on a Spanish beach with more than 60 pounds of garbage in its digestive system, and a few months later, in June, a pilot whale died in southern Thailand after eating more than 80 plastic bags.

When whales ingest plastic, it gives them a sense of fullness without providing any essential nutrients. This leads to reduced weight, energy and swimming speed, increasing their vulnerability when pursued by predators.

The Philippines is the third-largest source of discarded plastic that ends up in the ocean, just behind two other Asian nations, China and Indonesia, according to a 2015 report released by Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. The report adds that these countries have benefitted from significant increases in GDP and living standards in recent decades, yet the waste-management infrastructure needed to cope with heightened demand for consumer products has fallen behind.

Joe Palma, the president and chief executive of the World Wide Fund for Nature in the Philippines, cited single-use plastics, the difficulty of recycling and a lack of local laws as factors contributing to the pollution.

“We’re wasting a lot more than we should be,” he told the Times.