In yet another heartbreaking story that continues to add evidence to the growing plastic problem in the oceans, an endangered Gulf of Mexico Byrde’s Whale was discovered to have beached itself from ingesting a sharp piece of plastic which led to the whales death.
The Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) was informed of a whale stranding in the Everglades National Park back in January where it measured in at 38 feet and 23,000 pounds.. DNA tests at the time confirmed the species of the severely endangered animal.
Further tests including a necropsy confirmed ingestion of a sharp piece of plastic which is being attributed to the whales stranding and death.
In a Facebook post today, the FWC revealed that their team, along with the NOAA Fisheries Service, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Chicago Zoological Society and Smithsonian excavated the whale carcass from a beach where it was buried and prepared its bone for transportation to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., where it will be cataloged.
Experts estimate that there are currently less than 100 Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whales left in the world. They are the only known resident baleen whales in the Gulf of Mexico and can be found only within a discrete area along the De Soto Canyon shelf break in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.
Along with plastic pollution, the animal has many threats including vessel strikes, human-caused noise, fishing-gear entanglements and the largest threat, oil and energy exploration and development
Currently there is an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean..