Sperm Whale Swallows 450 Pounds of Marine Debris

The heavy rains currently beating down on the East San Francisco Bay Area has reminded me about the incredible amount of debris that will be entering our waterways and oceans.  We are all aware of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but there is an enormous amount of other debris that is left to surf the waves.  Take for instance fishing nets.  Unattended and discarded fishing nets pose danger to the entire ocean system, even whales.  Check out the following pictures from The Marine Mammal Center and the results of their necropsy of a dead sperm whale recovered in March 2008.

“On March 16, The Marine Mammal Center’s Director of Veterinary Science, Dr. Frances Gulland, assisted in the necropsy of a 51-foot-long sperm whale that  had washed up on a beach near Tomales Point in Point Reyes, CA. When the necropsy team reached the animal’s internal organs, they discovered nearly 450 pounds of fishing net, mesh, braided rope, plastic bags, and even a plastic comb in the whale’s stomach.

The Marine Mammal Center, August 2008

Photo: Chris Whittier
Photo: Chris Whittier
Photo: Chris Whittier
Photo: Chris Whittier

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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