Friday, May 20, 2016

Sperm Whales Washed up Dead in Germany

In January and February, 13 young sperm whales washed up on a beach near the town of Tönning in Germany. An autopsy showed that the whales had all died of heart failure and researchers believe that the whales, all between 10-15 years old, may have entered the North Sea by mistake. The sea floor is too shallow for the whales and so they parish. 

The deaths of these whales are sad, but what's worse is that the autopsy showed plastic inside the stomachs. They also found man-made trash ingested by the young whales and the remains of a 13 meter long and 1.2 meter wide safety net used for shrimp fishing and 70 centimeter long plastic cover from a car engine and some sharp edged pieces of a platinum bucket.

Even though the plastic didn't kill the whales, it reminded people of the plastic that is thrown everywhere. The head of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Reserach at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Ursula Siebert, says, "If the whales had survived, the garbage on their guts might have caused digestive problems down the line." If more whales eat more trash, whales will believe they are full and stop wanting to eat, causing malnutrition. 

Sperm whales aren't the only marine animals that are hurt by the amount of plastic in our oceans. sea turtles also mistake the trash for food. As man-maid items get stuck  in the animal's digestive tract, they result in a build-up of gas that causes "floater syndrome." Floater syndrome is when the turtles can no longer dive into the ocean to seek food. Instead, they just float on the surface and wait until they get rescued. If they aren't rescued in time, they starve to death. 

According to researchers from the University of Queenland, the number of marine life species ingesting or getting tangled in plastic increased from 250-700. The scientists are scared that even tiny plankton, a common food source, is consuming trash.

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