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Clean seas campaign launched on Spanish coast after sperm whale beached full of plastic

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Clean seas campaign launched on Spanish coast after sperm whale beached full of plastic
The whale carcass washed up on Cabo de Palo beach in Murcia. Photo: Murcia government
13:12 CEST+02:00
Regional authorities in Murcia have launched a campaign to rid the Spanish coast of plastic waste after it emerged a sperm whale found dead on the beach had died from plastic poisoning.

The young male sperm whale which measured ten meters in length washed up on a beach in Cabo de Palos, Murcia in southern Spain in February.

READ ALSO: Balearics move to ban disposable plastics in bid to clean up coast

An autopsy of the six-tonne marine mammal at the El Valle Wildlife Centre revealed it had 29kgs of plastic waste in its intestine and had died as a result.

Authorities released pictures of the contents of the whale’s stomach, which included plastic bags, pieces of nets and ropes, raffia sacking and even a plastic drum.

The whale perished either from an inability to digest or dislodge the trash or because of an intestinal rupture and subsequent caused by the waste.

The shocking discovery prompted the regional government to team up with the European Environmental Association and the European Fund for Regional Development, to launch a campaign against ocean waste.

It comes at a time of heightened global awareness of the threat to marine life boasted by discarded plastic.

“The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the biggest threats to the conservation of wildlife in the world,” acknowledged Consuelo Rosauro, Murcia’s regional government’s environment minister announcing the new campaign.

“Many animals get trapped in the rubbish or ingest great quantities of plastics, which end up causing their death,” she added.

“The Murcia region is no stranger to this problem that we must tackle by way of clean-up actions and, above all, awareness of citizens.”

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The new campaign will see an awareness drive designed to encourage citizens in the Murcia region to dispose of rubbish responsibly.

It will also involve new research programmes designed to monitor the extent of plastic waste off the coast and effect on marine life.

Murcia boasts several environmentally protected sites along its coastline, including the Mar Menor, one of the few nesting sites in Spain of the endangered loggerhead turtle.

Volunteers will also be asked to participate in beach clear up operations across the Murcia coast.

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