Recently on Plettenberg Bay in South Africa a five point seven meter, around eighteen feet, female orca was washed up on the rocks dead. Prior to being found dead the Plett Hope community had rescued it one time when it had become beached on the shore. The week before her death she was seen swimming around the bay at the Plett hope community. They believe the one found dead was the same one they rescued off the beach and that seemed to be struggling to swim around the bay.
Cause Of Death
Dr. Gwen Penry a marine mammal researcher and Plett Hope Spot Chair reported that a necropsy was performed to find cause of death. After opening up the orca they found food wrappers, sea-grass, yogurt cups, a sole of a shoe and other debris littering the creatures stomach. Reports have stated that this is the second orca found in this condition in recent months. Currently the researchers are still waiting for the results of blood work but they believe that the orca essentially starved because the trash was not digesting yet her stomach was full. Also, they stated that her stomach lining was falling apart due to the items inside of her stomach. Along with the debris they found tubed organisms that they still have yet to identify. The evidence points towards the orca trying to find food inside the bay where she ultimately perished. It is speculated that she parted from her herd because she was weak and went looking for items that were not in her typical diet. Orca's off of South African coast typically feed on mammals such as seals, squid and even dolphins. Perny does not know what happened first. The orca may have already had these things in her stomach causing her to become ill or she may have ingested them after she came into the bay sick and looking for easy nourishment.
Another story from Taiwan told of a sperm whale that was found dead with a stomach full of plastic bags. Also, found in the poor animals stomach were fishing nets. Again, it can not be told if the whale became sick and died because of eating these items however, it is true that with a stomach that is fully packed with items that can not be digested that an animal would eventually starve.
Oceans Suffer From Garbage and Debris
Stories like this and others show the damage that litter can cause to marine animals that are trying to survive. However, that is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the damage that plastics can cause the ocean. Debris that float around the ocean can become stuck on rocks and reefs and capture smaller marine life or plastic bags can float on the waves looking like a tasty jellyfish to their predators. There are so many things that littering can do to harm the ecosystems under the ocean waves. The current prediction is that there are fifteen to fifty-one trillion micro-plastic particles currently occupying the world's oceans. The weight adds up to 236,000 metric tons of micro-plastic just floating around the ocean.