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Minke whale death

Minke whale death

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This is just awful, but not uncommon. :mad:
On Sunday, a young, skinny 3.40m long male minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata Balaneoptera) was washed up and died on a beach at Nieuwpoort, Belgium.
It was taken for an autopsy to Universiteit van Luik (University of Liège)
which was performed by Veterinarian Thierry Jauniaux. 400g of plastic was found in the stomach and an almost complete obstruction of the digestive tract, meaning the whale could no longer feed and died of starvation. Frown

The amount of plastic in the worlds oceans is unbelievable. This is about the rubbish, mainly plastic, in the North Pacific. It’s a whale! It’s a fish! It’s…the North Pacific Trash Gyre! | The Oyster's Garter Plastic bags are one of the major causes of death in the world's largest turtle, the Leatherback. As they eat mainly jellyfish they mistake floating bags which get caught in the backward pointing spines in the turtles throat and block it.


There was an interesting article this morning from natuurbericht.nl about plastic North Sea. The investigation in reducing pollution and the effects plastic is having in our sea by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to meet the EU's 2020 targets.

About 12 percent of harbour seals in the North Sea have plastic in the stomach or intestines. Amazingly/luckily not bad for the seal itself but is alarming for the environment.

Master student Elisa Bravo Rebolledo investigated the stomach contents of 100 seals and found 28 pieces of plastic totaling about 3 grams, and 125 pieces of seal poo no plastic was found. The samples came from seals in 2001 and 2002 which were washed ashore en masse on the island of Texel (NL) during a violent epidemic of the phocine distemper virus.

Researcher Jan Andries van Franeker finds this worrying not because individual seals (45-130 kg) suffer from the tiny plastic pieces but what the result tells about plastic pollution of the environment and says it is alarming that even a sight hunter collects so much rubbish in his stomach. Seals hunt mainly fish and crab and wouldn't confuse plastic with food.

This is not shocking amounts of plastic, but the question remains, how do the seals ingest it? Franeker could only speculate saying we see relatively large wires, it is therefore possible that they eat fish entangled in nets. But plastic is also relatively heavy so maybe it sinks to the bottom of the sea so that the seals ingest it while hunting off the seabed this being consistent with another finding also having lots of natural soil material, smooth wood blocks in their stomachs.

Scientists are currently looking for new species to research as ironically seals do not ingest enough plastic to serve as good indicators of plastic pollution. Fulmars and Petrels are being researched. In the Mediterranean and Black Sea.scientists are looking at fish and turtles.

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