The carcass of a pregnant sperm whale that washed up in Sardinia, Italy, last week had 22 kilograms (49 pounds) of plastic in its stomach, and was carrying a dead fetus, the country’s environment minister and a marine life non-profit organization said.
Luca Bittau, president of the SeaMe group, told CNN the beached mammal’s remains contained “garbage bags … fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode … and other objects no longer identifiable.”
“She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached,” he said. “The fetus was in an advanced state of composition.”
The dead animal, which was eight meters (26 feet) long, washed up on a beach in the Sardinian tourist hotspot of Porto Cervo.
Bittau said the cause of death would be known after histological and toxicological examinations carried out by veterinarians in Padua, northern Italy.
Sergio Costa, Italy’s environment minister, said in a Facebook post: “Are there still people who say these are not important problems? For me they are, and they are priorities.”
“We’ve used the ‘comfort’ of disposable objects in a lighthearted way in the past years and now we are paying the consequences. Indeed the animals, above all, are the ones paying them,” he continued.
Costa also referred to the recent approval by the European Parliament of a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021.
“Italy will be one of the first countries to implement it,” he promised. “The war on disposable plastic has begun. And we won’t stop here.”
Last month, a young whale was found dead in the Philippines with 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags in its stomach.