Saturday 21 September 2019

115 plastic cups and two flip-flops found in dead whale's stomach

Washed ashore: The dead whale in Wakatobi, Indonesia
Washed ashore: The dead whale in Wakatobi, Indonesia

Ian Fender

A dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a lump of rubbish in its stomach including 115 plastic cups and two flip-flops.

Wakatobi National Park chief Heri Santoso said rescuers found the rotting carcass of the 10-metre sperm whale on Monday near Kapota waters in the Southeast Sulawesi province.

Mr Santoso said the mammal was male and the 6kg of rubbish in it included 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other plastic pieces.

The cause of the death was still unknown and the carcass was to be buried yesterday without a necropsy because of its decayed condition.

Dwi Suprapti, a marine species conservation co-ordinator at WWF Indonesia, said: "Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful."

Indonesia, an archipelago of 260 million people, is the world's second-largest plastic polluter after China, according to a study published in the journal 'Science' in January.

It produces 3.2 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste a year, of which 1.29 million tons ends up in the ocean, the study said.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's co-ordinating minister of maritime affairs, said the whale's discovery should raise public awareness about the need to reduce plastic use, and had spurred the government to take tougher measures to protect the ocean.

"I'm so sad to hear this," said Mr Pandjaitan.

"It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives."

He said the government is making efforts to reduce the use of plastic.

Irish Independent

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