Between the 8th of January and 24th of February 2016, 30 sperm whales stranded along the North Sea coast at different locations. The gut content of 22 carcasses was analyzed, 9 of the guts contained garbage. In total, 322 items were counted of which 78% was fishing material (nets, ropes etc.) and 22% other waste. For example, a bucket, a coffee capsule, chocolate wrapping paper and a car part was found.
Photo: Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, Location: Wadden Sea, Schleswig-Holstein
One whale contained 24.84 kg of garbage in its gut and another one a 13.5 m long and 1.2 m wide net. As all whales were well nurtured and no injuries in the gastrointestinal tract due to the garbage were detected, the ingestion of waste was not the cause of death. However, the high amount of waste found in the whales is alarming and subsequent consequences are unknown, since the whales died for another reason.
Photo: Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, Location: Wadden Sea, Schleswi g-Holstein