Shocking photos from Norway are showing the grim effects that litter has on animals. When a Cuvier’s beaked whale was euthanized after becoming stranded, experts made a horrifying discovery: The animal’s stomach reportedly contained 30 plastic bags, in addition to other various pieces of plastic. Graphic photos purport to show the amount of discarded plastic that the whale had ingested:
These images allegedly show the bags that were removed from the whale’s stomach. Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway who participated in the necropsy believe that the bags not only would have made it difficult for the whale to eat or digest food but also would have caused pain.
Littering hurts all animals—not just the ones on land.
Sadly, this whale’s story isn’t unique or even uncommon. Whales all over the world have been discovered with plastic garbage in their stomachs. Scientists also have evidence that over half of sea turtles around the world have ingested plastic.
Scientists predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. https://t.co/GcncAGYtfH
— Scientific American (@sciam) February 4, 2017
While some companies are working to make positive change for marine animals affected by litter, the extent to which plastic has entered ocean ecosystems—and the food chain—is so great that it still hasn’t been fully analyzed.
You can start making a difference right away by taking reusable shopping bags with you every time you head to the store, instead of using the plastic or paper ones offered at the checkout counter.
Please, don’t ever litter. Always properly dispose of trash by keeping all garbage in tightly sealed, chew-proof containers; rinsing out cans and putting the tops inside so that they won’t cut an animal’s tongue; crushing aluminum cans; fully breaking apart plastic six-pack rings; and cutting open empty cardboard and plastic containers so that small animals can’t get their faces or heads trapped inside them.
Animals of all kinds often mistake trash for food or shelter. Please help properly dispose of other people’s trash, too. Your actions could mean the difference between life and death for an animal.