A dead pregnant sperm whale that washed up on the coast in Sardinia, Italy, last week contained 49 pounds of plastic in its stomach, according to the country’s environmental minister.
The 26-foot-long beached mammal was carrying a dead fetus as well as “garbage bags … fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode … and other objects no longer identifiable,” Luca Bittau, president of the SeaMe group, told CNN International.
“She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before (she) beached,” Bittau explained. “The fetus was in an advanced state of composition.”
WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: ‘DISGUSTING’ 88-LB MASS OF PLASTIC BAGS FOUND IN DEAD WHALE’S STOMACH
The animal’s carcass was found on the beach in the popular Sardinian tourist town of Porto Cervo. Bittau said veterinarians in the northern city of Padua will conduct histological and toxicological examinations on the sperm whale’s body in order to determine the cause of death.
Sergio Costa, Italy’s Minister of the Environment, addressed the country’s disposable plastic problem in a Facebook post, calling for better policies to protect marine wildlife in Italy and around the world.
“Is there still someone who says that these are not important problems? For me, yes, and they are priorities,” Costa wrote, according to a translated version of the Facebook post. He added, “We have used in a light-hearted way the “comfort” of the disposable in these years and today we are paying the consequences, indeed they are paying above all the animals.”
Costa vowed that Italy will be one of the first nations to implement a new law passed by the European Parliament that bans a variety of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery by 2021.
“The war on disposable plastic has begun. And we won’t stop here,” Costa added.
Large volumes of plastic have been discovered in the stomachs of other dead whales, exemplifying the widespread problem of plastic polluting the world’s oceans.
Researchers found 88 pounds of plastic bags in the stomach of a juvenile male Cuvier’s Beaked whale recovered in the Philippines last month, Fox News reported last month.
D’ Bone Collector Museum said in a Facebook post that plastic bags, including 16 rice sacks and multiple shopping bags, were in the stomach of a whale’s dead body discovered March 16 in Philippines’ Compostela Valley province.
“This whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale. It’s disgusting,” the museum wrote in the post. “Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters.”
In Indonesia, researchers found 13 pounds of plastic, including 115 plastic cups, 25 plastic bags, four plastic bottles, two flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other assorted pieces of plastic inside a 31-foot beached whale last year.
In June 2018, another whale died in Thailand after consuming more than 80 plastic bags.
Fox News’ James Rogers, Ryan Gaydos, Travis Fedschun and the Associated Press contributed to this article.