Pregnant whale found dead with with nearly 50 pounds of plastic in its stomach

A pregnant whale that washed up on the Italian coast reportedly had nearly 50 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach.

CNN reports the whale, which was found in Sardinia, Italy, last week, was also carrying a fetus that was no longer alive.

"She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before [she] beached," Luca Bittau, president of nonprofit organization SeaMe, told CNN. "The fetus was in an advanced state of composition."

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Bittau added that the whale’s stomach contained "garbage bags ... fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode ... and other objects no longer identifiable."

CNN noted the beached whale was found at a popular tourist beach.

Bittau said the cause of the whale’s death was currently not known but histological and toxicological exams would take place.

Italy’s environment minister weighed in on the incident in a Facebook post, questioning if people were still doubting the impact of disposable objects.

"Are there still people who say these are not important problems? For me they are, and they are priorities,” Sergio Costa wrote. "We've used the 'comfort' of disposable objects in a lighthearted way in the past years and now we are paying the consequences. Indeed the animals, above all, are the ones paying them.”

He added that “the war on disposable plastic has begun” in Italy, with the country being one of the first in the world to pass laws implementing bans on single-use plastic items.

The Sardinia whale is one in a string of cetaceans found dead with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs.

Less than two weeks ago a dead whale was found on a beach in the Philippines that had more than 80 pounds of plastic in its stomach. 

A sperm whale found dead in Indonesia in November had about 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Earlier in 2018, a pilot whale that died following a five-day rescue effort was found to have had 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach.