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A sperm whale that washed ashore in Hawaii over the weekend likely died, in part because it ate large amounts of fishing traps, fishing nets, plastic bags and other marine debris, BTA reported, citing local scientists.

The case of the sperm whale draws attention to the threat to wildlife from the millions of tons of plastic that end up in the oceans each year.

The body of the 17-meter-long animal, weighing 54,431 kilograms, was first spotted on a reef off Kauai last Friday.

A day later, the tide washed him ashore. 

The ocean threw out a sperm whale that swallowed 6 kg of plastic

Christy West of the University of Hawaii reported that there were enough foreign objects in the opening of the sperm whale's gastrointestinal tract to block the food.

"The presence of undigested fish and squid provides additional evidence of clogging," she says. 

Six turbot traps, seven types of fishing nets, two types of plastic bags, a fishing line, a net float were found in the animal's stomach.

The researchers also found remains of squid, fish and other prey.  

This is the first known case of a sperm whale in Hawaiian waters ingesting discarded fishing gear, West said.

The mammal's stomach was so large that Christy West's team was unable to fully examine it.

Specialists suspect that there were other materials in it that they were unable to remove. 

The team found nothing wrong with the other organs they examined.

Specialists collected samples for disease screening and other follow-up tests.

Sperm whales travel thousands of kilometers in the ocean, so it's not clear where the waste came from. 

Scientists say more than 35 million tons (31.9 million metric tons) of plastic pollution is generated on Earth each year, with about a quarter of it ending up in water.

Ocean litter harms numerous species.

Seabirds can ingest plastic equivalent to up to 8 percent of their body weight.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles can get caught in plastic nets and die.

Sharks and other top predators eat smaller fish feeding on microplastics, which can then endanger their own health.

In addition to ingesting plastic, large whales suffer when they become entangled in fishing gear or other lines in the ocean.

The drag of debris can force animals to expend more energy to swim and make it harder for them to feed, leading to starvation.

Sperm whales are an endangered species found in the ocean depths around the world.

A 2021 report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that there are about 4,500 sperm whales in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands.      

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