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As main meal for sperm whales: Plastics debris
de Stephanis, R.; Giménez, J.; Carpinelli, E.; Gutierrez-Exposito, C.; Cañadas, A. (2013). As main meal for sperm whales: Plastics debris. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 69(1-2): 206-214.
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Physeter macrocephalus Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Marine debris; Greenhouse; Plastics; Sperm whale; Spatial modelling; Mediterranean Sea

Authors  Top 
  • de Stephanis, R.
  • Giménez, J.
  • Carpinelli, E.
  • Gutierrez-Exposito, C.
  • Cañadas, A.

    Marine debris has been found in marine animals since the early 20th century, but little is known about the impacts of the ingestion of debris in large marine mammals. In this study we describe a case of mortality of a sperm whale related to the ingestion of large amounts of marine debris in the Mediterranean Sea (4th published case worldwide to our knowledge), and discuss it within the context of the spatial distribution of the species and the presence of anthropogenic activities in the area that could be the source of the plastic debris found inside the sperm whale. The spatial distribution modelled for the species in the region shows that these animals can be seen in two distinct areas: near the waters of Almería, Granada and Murcia and in waters near the Strait of Gibraltar. The results shows how these animals feed in waters near an area completely flooded by the greenhouse industry, making them vulnerable to its waste products if adequate treatment of this industry’s debris is not in place. Most types of these plastic materials have been found in the individual examined and cause of death was presumed to be gastric rupture following impaction with debris, which added to a previous problem of starvation. The problem of plastics arising from greenhouse agriculture should have a relevant section in the conservation plans and should be a recommendation from ACCOBAMS due to these plastics’ and sperm whales’ high mobility in the Mediterranean Sea.

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