REGIONAL government authorities in Murcia have said that the sperm whale washed up off the coast at the end of February died as a result of ingesting 29 kilos (64lbs) of plastic waste products.
According to an autopsy, the young male was killed by gastric shock and the investigations revealed his stomach and intestines to contain rubbish such as plastic bags, raffia sacks, pieces of nets and ropes and even a plastic petrol can.
The whale, which measured almost 10 metres (33 feet) in length and weighed more than six tons, was found dead on a beach in Cabo de Palos, Murcia, around six weeks ago.
The shocking discovery of the mammal’s cause of death has prompted the region’s government to launch a campaign to fight against the dumping of plastic waste in the ocean.
Consuelo Rosauro, the director-general for the natural environment in the Murcian government, said that pollution from plastic waste had become one of the biggest threats to global marine life in the last decade.
“Many animals get trapped in the rubbish or ingest great quantities of plastic which cause their death,” she said.
“The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, since many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large amounts of plastics that end up causing their death.”
She added: “The region of Murcia is no stranger to this problem, which we must tackle through clean-up actions and, above all, citizen awareness.”