Scientists in Norway found more than 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste inside the stomach of a whale stranded off the coast.
Wardens had put the whale down after realising it wasn’t going to live, and had clearly consumed a large amount of non-biodegradable waste.
Despite the huge volume of plastic clogging up the whale’s stomach, the fact it died from ingesting the waste was “not surprising”, said researchers, as the volume of plastic in our seas continues to grow.
The Cuvier’s beaked whale was found stranded in shallow waters off the island of Sotra, and was in such poor condition the wardens decided to put it down.
The creature had very little blubber and was emaciated, suggesting the plastic had lead it to become malnourished.
Dr Terje Lislevand, a zoologist who studied the whale, said: “The whale’s stomach was full of plastic bags and packaging with labels in Danish and English.”
He also said the intestines were probably blocked up with plastic, causing severe pain.
Deceased humpback whale hauled away by tractor
He added: “The findings are not surprising, but clearly it is sad to discover such large quantities.”
Cuvier’s beaked whales grow up to 22ft long and usually feed on squid and deep-sea fish.
They are not normally found in Norwegian waters.
At the beginning of last year, experts warned there will be more plastic than sealife in the oceans by 2050.
At least 8 million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of a rubbish truck of waste every minute, according to the report from the World Economic Forum.
The rate of plastic pollution is only expected to increase as more and more plastic is used globally, especially in emerging economies with weaker waste and recycling regimes.