1,000 pieces of plastic discovered in the stomach of a dead whale in Indonesia

1,000 pieces of plastic discovered in the stomach of a dead whale in Indonesia

The whale had flip flops, bottles, bags, and 115 glasses in its stomach.

A dead whale that landed in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic debris in its stomach, including flip flops and 115 drinking glasses, a park official said, causing concern among environmentalists and government officials at one of the world's largest plastic pollutants.

Rescuers from Wakatobi National Park found the rotting carcass of the 9.5-meter (31-foot) whale Monday near the park in southeast Sulawesi province after receiving a report from environmentalists that villagers had surrounded the dead whale and they were beginning to cut the rotten carcass, the park Chief Heri Santoso said.

Santoso said that researchers from the wildlife conservation group WWF and the park's conservation academy found approximately 5.9kg (13 pounds) of plastic debris in the animal's stomach containing 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, two flip flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic.

"Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are really horrible," said Dwi Suprapti, coordinator of marine species conservation at WWF Indonesia.

She said it was not possible to determine whether the plastic had caused the whale's death due to the animal's advanced state of decomposition.

According to a study published in the journal Science in January, Indonesia, an archipelago of 260 million people, is the second largest plastic polluter in the world after China. It produces 3.2 million tons of poorly managed plastic waste a year, of which 1.29 million tons ends up in the ocean, according to the study.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs, said the whale's discovery should raise public awareness of the need to reduce plastic use, and had encouraged the government to take stricter measures to protect the ocean.

"I'm very sad to hear this," said Pandjaitan, who has campaigned for less plastic use. "It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives."

He said the government was making efforts to reduce plastic use, even urging stores not to provide plastic bags for customers and teaching about the problem in schools across the country to meet the government's goal of reducing the use of plastic by 70% by 2025.

"This great ambition can be achieved if people learn to understand that plastic waste is a common enemy," he said.

Original article (in English)

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