A pilot whale has died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags, the country’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources announced.
A team of vets tried to “help stabilise” the small male pilot whale after it was discovered on Monday barely alive in a canal near the Malaysian border, the department said.
However, the efforts were unsuccessful with the animal regurgitating five plastic bags before passing away on Friday.
An autopsy found another 80 plastic bags and other plastic items in the whale’s stomach, weighing eight kilograms in total.
“This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food,” the department said.
Experts believe the pilot whale, which would normally feed predominantly on squid, thought the floating plastic bags were food.
Veterinarian Watchara Sakornwimon told Euronews she had "never seen a lot of plastic in a whale's stomach like this."
Globally, some eight million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, the United Nations Environment Programme said in December.
The European Commission on Monday proposed banning single-use plastic products, such as cotton buds and straws, and replacing them with environmentally sustainable alternatives in an effort to reduce marine litter.