After a whale stranded in shallow waters in the southern Philippines died, marine biologists discovered about 40 kilos (88 pounds) of plastic in its stomach, environmental groups said Tuesday.
The carcass of the 15.4-foot (4.7-meter) whale was found on the coastal town of Mabini in Compostela Valley on the island of Mindanao. It had been stuck there since Friday.
Darrel Blatchley, founder of the D’Bone Collector Museum, examined the Cuvier’s beaked whale and found the trash in its stomach. The garbage contributed to dehydration and starvation that led to the whale’s death.
“Every single river, every single canal goes directly to the ocean. So everything from small whales and dolphins, even the sea turtles are affected by this, as well as humans,” he said. “We are eating the food that comes out of that ocean. So we’re basically throwing our own garbage into our food source.”
Regional Greenpeace campaigner Abigail Aguilar said the whale’s death was one of the worst cases of plastic poisoning she had seen.
“The frequency on which marine animals are dying due to plastic ingestion is alarming. In less than a year, whales, dolphins and turtles have died in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, a clear proof how grave plastic pollution affects our environment, most specifically ocean creatures,” Aguilar said.
In Davao Gulf alone, Aguilar said three whales and a dolphin were found dead with plastic in their stomachs this year alone.
“Just a week ago, we have documented a crab trapped inside a disposable cup under the seas of Verde Island Passage, the epicenter of marine biodiversity in the world,” she said.
“It is unimaginable how many more animals are mistaking and ingesting plastic for food right now, and how many more of them will be found beached and dead soon” she said.
Aguilar called on corporations to reduce or stop the production of single-use plastic for packaging, or for governments to ban single-use plastic products.
Weeks earlier, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA), an environmental NGO, said that about 57 million plastic bags were used daily throughout the Philippines, mostly for shopping.
The GAIA called on the government to “institute a comprehensive national plastic bag ban that promotes reusable bags,” as well as “regulations on other single-use plastic products and rules requiring companies to redesign products and packaging to minimize plastic waste.”
In 2017, the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, said the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam were responsible for more than half of the plastic waste entering the oceans.