Heartbreaking photos show whale who died after eating more than 80 plastic bags
If you've ever seen that horrible final episode of Blue Planet II, where albatross parents feed their baby birds plastic and a beautiful turtle gets caught up in a rogue bag, then you'll already know that humans are inadvertently doing some pretty terrible things to the world's oceans right now. Last year, we managed to dump an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic into our waters - and while this may seem like a huge amount in itself, a recent report has predicted that the amount of litter in the sea could triple within a decade unless something drastic is done.
Now, the horrific real life side-effects of this plastic pollution have been brought to life once more in a series of heartbreaking images that have emerged from Thailand, showing a pilot whale who died after mistakenly ingesting up to 80 plastic bags.
The whale was first discovered ill in a canal near the country's border with Malaysia, according to Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. Good samaritans used buoys to keep the animal afloat and an umbrella to shield it from the sun; after receiving treatment from veterinarians, the whale was stabilised and managed to bring up five plastic bags.
However, the whale's condition later deteriorated and it passed away. It was during the autopsy that scientists discovered the mass of plastic bags, weighing up to 8kg (17lbs), which the Department's head believes it had mistaken for food. While the whales usually feed on squid, they do eat octopus and smaller fish when necessary. In images posted on the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources' website, it is clear that the bags cover most of the room's floor.
Speaking after the event, Jatuporn Buruspat, head of the department, told Reuters that they would be using the case to raise awareness of the environmental impact of plastic pollution ahead of World Oceans Day on June 8: "We will use the whale case and invite all sectors to show their intentions on how to reduce the use of plastic in Thailand". In 2017, a report by Ocean Conservancy listed Thailand as one of five countries - alongside China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam - who dump more plastic into the ocean than all other nations combined.
The only good news is that with stories such as this, countries and consumers are starting to wake up to the impact of humans on the oceans, and there are campaigns taking place all around the world to crack down on the amount of plastic getting into our oceans. From one British county's mission to ban plastic straws to this genius contraption designed to collect plastic bottles from the ocean, things are beginning to change.
But the depressing truth is that there is still so much more to be done, because as horrible as this story may be, there are still thousands more animals killed by plastic waste every day whose stories you'll never even read about.