Dead sperm whale washes up on beach in Indonesia’s Wakatobi with 5.9 kg of plastic waste in its stomach

Plastic waste found inside the stomach of a dead sperm whale in Indonesia on Nov 18, 2918. Photo: World Wildlife Fund Indonesia / Kartika Sumolang
Plastic waste found inside the stomach of a dead sperm whale in Indonesia on Nov 18, 2918. Photo: World Wildlife Fund Indonesia / Kartika Sumolang

A dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in the Wakatobi Islands in Southeast Sulawesi on Sunday, but what was most shocking was what was found inside its body — the latest disturbing illustration of Indonesia’s huge plastic waste problem.

As tweeted by WWF Indonesia, the whale was decaying and had several body parts missing when it washed up on shore. Its cause of death is not yet known.

When local wildlife officials opened up the whale carcass, they found 5.9 kg of plastic waste inside its belly, consisting of 19 pieces of hard plastic (140 g), four plastic bottles (150 g), 25 plastic bags (260 g), a pair of flip flops (270 g), plastic rope (3.26 kg) and 115 plastic cups (750 g).

As reported by Kompas, the whale — which measured 9.5 meters in length — was buried the following Tuesday as the stench from its decaying body was bothering locals. Samples of the carcass were retrieved for a necropsy.

It’s very likely that the plastic waste the whale ingested came from plastic-polluted rivers. A study conducted last year showed that four of Indonesia’s rivers rank among the 20 most polluted in the world in terms of mismanaged plastic waste measured in metric tons. This makes Indonesia the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China.

A recent research article, published in the journal Nature Communications, estimates that between 1.15 million and 2.41 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year from rivers. Of this, Indonesia is estimated to emit around 200,000 tonnes of plastic from rivers and streams, mainly from Java and Sumatra.

Leave a Reply

Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on
MOST POPULAR