Regional authorities in Murcia have launched a campaign to rid the Spanish coast of plastic waste after it emerged a sperm whale found dead on the beach had died from plastic poisoning.
The young male sperm whale which measured ten meters in length washed up on a beach in Cabo de Palos, Murcia in southern Spain in February.
An autopsy of the six-tonne marine mammal at the El Valle Wildlife Centre revealed it had 29kgs of plastic waste in its intestine and had died as a result.
Authorities released pictures of the contents of the whale’s stomach, which included plastic bags, pieces of nets and ropes, raffia sacking and even a plastic drum.
The whale perished either from an inability to digest or dislodge the trash or because of an intestinal rupture and subsequent caused by the waste.
The shocking discovery prompted the regional government to team up with the European Environmental Association and the European Fund for Regional Development, to launch a campaign against ocean waste.
It comes at a time of heightened global awareness of the threat to marine life boasted by discarded plastic.
“The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the biggest threats to the conservation of wildlife in the world,” acknowledged Consuelo Rosauro, Murcia’s regional government’s environment minister announcing the new campaign.
“Many animals get trapped in the rubbish or ingest great quantities of plastics, which end up causing their death,” she added.
“The Murcia region is no stranger to this problem that we must tackle by way of clean-up actions and, above all, awareness of citizens.”