Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags

Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags

Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags

It was a race against time to save the male pilot whale, slowly dying after it was discovered Monday in Thailand near the Malaysian border.

A team of rescuers deployed buoys to keep the mammal from slipping into the water and drowning as veterinarians tended to it. An autopsy exhumed 8 kg (more than 17 lb) of additional plastic rubbish from the whale's stomach, the department said in a Facebook post.

The Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources posted grim photos showing the seemingly endless lineup of plastic bags taken from the whale's stomach.

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The pilot whale's plight generated sympathy and anger among Thai citizens.

A pilot whale died in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags weighing almost 18 lbs (8 kg). "If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die", Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist, told The Independent.

The whale's death comes as dozens of cities and companies worldwide are moving to crack down on plastic pollution by banning the use of non-reusable plastic containers, bags and drinking straws. Rescuers kept it afloat and shaded it from the sun, but after vomiting up five plastic bags, the whale died.

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Thailand is a major user of plastic bags and its government last month announced it was considering a levy on them.

"We have a goal to reduce plastic waste by adjusting policies and practices, from their beginning in the production line, then on to consumers' hands and on to waste management at the end", said Wijarn Simachaya at the environment ministry. Kenya a year ago enacted the world's toughest law against plastic bags. He further added that at least 300 marine animals, including pilot whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, perish each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic.

Greenpeace's Tara urged the government to quickly enact regulations.

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