Dead Sperm Whale Found in Hawaii Beach with Fishing Nets, Traps, Marine Debris in Stomach
Scientists said on Thursday that a 56-foot-long endangered sperm whale that washed up on the shore of Hawaii on Saturday most likely perished after consuming trash, including seven different types of fishing nets, at least six hagfish traps, a light protector, two different types of plastic bags, fishing line, and a float from a net.
Another Dead Sperm Whale
According to a previous report, the dead whale was discovered bobbing on the reef off Lydgate Beach on Kauai’s east shore on Friday. On Saturday, it was swept onto the beach by a high tide, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Health and Stranding Lab researchers used heavy machinery to lift the 122,000-pound carcass out of the muddy sand and into a dry location where they could perform a necropsy, or postmortem examination. Squid beaks, fish skeletons, and a ton of trash were discovered inside the stomach by the team, which may have played a role in the whale’s demise, according to lab director Kristi West.
Fishing Nets, Traps, Marine Debris
West said in a press release via the State of Hawaii Office of the Governor that they believe that there was probably more material that they were unable to recover because the mammal had a large stomach and the experts were unable to examine its entirety. The opening from the intestines into the stomach is relatively small, but there is unquestionably a sizeable volume of foreign objects present to result in a blockage. Undigested squid and fish are additional indications of a blockage.
According to West, This sperm whale is the first one in Hawaiian waters to have this kind of ingestion of leftover fishing gear and nets, according to experts.
A whale washed up dead in Hawaii after eating at least 7 types of fishing nets and 2 types of plastic bags, said officials.
It is the first known case of a sperm whale in Hawaii ingesting such items.
Over 14M tons of plastic waste enter oceans each year, according to @IUCN. pic.twitter.com/acNs1p4tcv
— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 3, 2023
According to the results of the examination of the organs done by researchers, only the gastrointestinal tract was disturbed. Additionally, swabs were collected to test for potential diseases; the outcomes have not yet been finalized, SFGate reports.
Also Read: Mysterious Whale Deaths Continue on the US East Coast, Experts Weigh In in Increasing Toll
Sperm whales live in the world’s deep oceans and are distinguished by their enormous heads, which contain spermaceti, a waxy substance. These sacs, which have a capacity of up to 2,000 liters of oil, led to a sharp decline in their population from the 1800s to 1987 as a result of commercial whaling.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that the oil was used in candles, oil lamps, and lubricants. The species is still recovering, according to the agency, and is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
During lengthy dives that can last up to 45 minutes and routinely reach depths of 2,000 feet, sperm whales forage for food. They can dive for more than 60 minutes at depths of over 10,000 feet. They emerge from long, deep dives to catch their breath and recover for a while before beginning their next dive.
Since sperm whales spend the majority of their time in deep ocean waters, species like squid, skates, sharks, and fish make up their diet. About 3% to 3.5% of a sperm whale’s body weight can be consumed each day.
Unfortunately, many marine animals, including sperm whales, are capable of ingesting marine debris. Debris in the sperm whales’ feeding area could be mistaken for prey and accidentally consumed, which could result in harm or even death.
Related Article: Endangered Sperm Whale Carcass with Large Gashes Found in Oregon Shores, Officials Say Starving Before Death
UH Health and Stranding Lab-Sperm Whale, Feb. 1, 2023 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.
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