Engine cover and fishing gear are only some of the shocking contents discovered inside the stomachs of sperm whales that appeared on the North Sea Coast in Germany. Though 3 years have passed from the event, it has left the public startled to this day.
The 13 sperm whales washed up near Schleswig-Holstein, a German state, and are the latest of whale strandings around the North Sea. Unfortunately, more than 30 sperm whales have been discovered on beaches from the beginning of 2016.
The Stomach Contents Left Researchers in Shock
Following a necropsy of the whales, German researchers found that 4 of the animals had a significant amount of plastic in their stomachs. The waste included an almost 43-foot-long fishing net, remains from a plastic bucket, and a car engine cover.
According to Ursula Siebert, head of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, the marine litter was not the direct cause of the stranding. The team of researchers believes that the whales died due to accidental venture into shallow seas.
Namely, male sperm whales normally migrate from tropical or subtropical breeding grounds to colder waters which are at higher latitudes. This is one of the deepest diving animals which can plummet as far as 3270 feet in search of its favorite food, i.e. squid.
The stranded whales were young males between the ages of 10 and 15 and according to the necropsies; they died of heart failure. The team thinks that this group mistakenly went into the North Sea which is a shallower zone where they could not support their body weights and their organs collapsed.
The Mysteries of the Ocean
According to the WDC, dolphins and whales may strand for numerous reasons, including noise pollution caused by ships and drilling surveys or subtle shifts in the magnetic field of the Earth.
Moreover, pilot whales which appeared on the beaches off the coast of Scotland three years ago contained high amounts of toxins from pollution in the oceans. Scientists associated the pollution with stress on the brain that led to disorientation.
This being said, changes in weather may also play a role. However, the exact reason why whales are appearing around the North Sea remains unknown.
Unfortunately, even if the whales survived, the waste in their stomachs would have caused digestive issues. The feeling of fullness may lower their instinct to feed and thus, worsen their nutrition and cause other issues.