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DATE: April 2, 2019

SNIP: Disposable dishes, shopping bags, fishing nets, a laundry detergent package with its barcode still detectable and a corrugated tube are just a few of the many items that made up the 48 pounds of plastic that killed a sperm whale in the Mediterranean Sea last Thursday. The carcass washed ashore in Porto Cervo, on the Italian island of Sardinia. The young female sperm whale was also carrying a fetus.

“She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before she beached,” Luca Bittau, president of the SeaMe group, told CNN. “The fetus was in an advanced state of composition.”

If this sounds like a familiar story, it is.

In March, a whale was found dead on a Philippine beach with 88 pounds of plastic in its body. Last November, a dead sperm whale found on Kapota Island, in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach, which included 25 plastic bags, 115 plastic cups and two flip-flop sandals. Another sperm whale died in Spain after being unable to digest more than 60 pounds of plastic trash in April 2018. The world’s cetaceans are choking and dying on plastic.

More than 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year, according to the World Wildlife. Marine animals often ingest plastic waste because they mistake it for food. However, the increase of whales being found dead from this is deeply worrisome to many in the marine wildlife field — especially since there does not appear to be an end in sight.