Scientists discovered 64 pounds of plastic garbage inside a young sperm whale that washed up on a beach in southern Spain in late February and believe the plastic trash killed it.
Researchers with the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Center performed a necropsy on the 33-foot-long animal and determined it likely died from peritonitis, a type of abdominal infection, according to Live Science.
Items discovered inside the whale during the autopsy included a mass of tangled rope and glass, dozens of plastic bags, a large water container and fishing nets, Live Science reported.
The young whale could not expel the huge amount of plastic from its system, researchers said, leading to its death.
Sperm whales are listed as an endangered species and protected in the U.S. under both the Endangered Species Conservation Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Recently, scientists reported on just one area of plastic garbage pollution known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, revising the size of the pollution there. The patch had grown four to 16 times larger over the past decade and contains 87,000 pounds of mostly plastic trash, they said.
There are other garbage patches like the one in the Pacific in other oceans on the planet.
Some areas, including places in the U.S., have banned the use of plastic bags because of widespread pollution.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.