HARRIS ISLAND, SCOTLAND –
A young sperm whale who died after being trapped on a Scottish island last week had a ball of debris weighing about 100 kilograms in the stomach, according to an organization that carried out a post-mortem on the animal.
The juvenile whale died Thursday at Seilebost Beach on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, according to Dan Parry, the manager of a Facebook page aimed at keeping nearby Luskentyre Beach free of trash.
Workers at SMASS, which collects data on stranded sea animals in Scotland, discovered a huge ball of debris in the whale's stomach during the autopsy, according to a post on its Facebook page on Sunday.
Among the debris – which apparently came "from the land and fisheries sector," SMASS said – were sections of nets, plastic cups and tubes.
The organization could not find evidence that the debris had blocked the creature's gut, but said the amount of debris could have contributed to its live stranding.
He added: "This amount of plastic in the stomach is horrible, must be compromised digestion and serves to demonstrate once again the dangers that lost or discarded marine litter and fishing gear can cause to marine life."
As the 20-ton animal could not be moved, it was buried on the beach, with members of the West Coast Coast Guard and local council helping with the autopsy and burial.
Parry, who says on Facebook that he walks the beach every day, picking up trash, wrote in a post: "Ocean debris is everyone's business – the fishing industry needs to do better, but equally, we all need to do More.
"Watching this today makes me despair of the environment, crumbling all around us."