Hawaiian whale dies with fishing nets, plastic bags in stomach

HONOLULU (AP) — A whale that washed ashore in Hawaii over the weekend likely died in part from eating large amounts of fish traps, fishing nets, plastic bags and other marine debris, scientists said Thursday, emphasizing the threat to wildlife Millions of tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year.

The body of the 56-foot (17-meter) long, 120,000-pound (54,431-kilogram) animal was first noticed on a reef off Kauai on Friday. The tide brought it ashore on Saturday.

Kristi West, director of the University of Hawaii Health and Stranding Laboratory, said there were enough foreign objects in the opening of the whale’s intestinal tract to block food.

“The presence of undigested fish and squid is further evidence of a blockage,” she said in a news release from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The whale’s stomach contained six hagfish traps, seven types of fishing nets, two types of plastic bags, a sunscreen, fishing line and a net float. The researchers also found squid beaks, fish skeletons and the remains of other prey in the whale’s stomach.