According to a report, a pregnant 26 ft sperm whale washed ashore on the island of Sardinia, Italy, with almost 50 lb of plastic in its stomach.

In news that is becoming all too common, the pregnant sperm whale is the fourth whale to wash ashore in recent months with a stomach full of plastic waste. Back in mid-March, reports out of the Philippines revealed that a 15 ft Cuvier’s beaked whale had beached itself. Following a necropsy, it was discovered that the whale had roughly 88 lb of calcified plastic and other waste in its stomach.

In both instances, the plastic waste had occupied so much space in the whales' stomachs that digesting food became impossible and the whales subsequently starved.

In the case of the pregnant sperm whale, two-thirds of its stomach was occupied by items such as corrugated tube for electrical works, shopping bags and fishing lines.

The issue of plastic pollution is gaining in severity as it is estimated that eight million tons of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans each year. The issue is such that many companies and universities are looking for alternatives to the single-use plastics that are largely responsible for the waste issue.

A startup in Mexico is turning avocado seeds into disposable cutlery and straws while University of Georgia researchers are attempting to create a biodegradable alternative to plastic straws. Similarly, many companies are considering their contributions to plastic waste and are subsequently doing away with problematic items such as packaging, straws and other single-use plastics.

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