Environment Minister Robert Habeck (left) and Gerd Meurs-Scher show plastic parts which were found in the stomachs of sperm whales that stranded near the town of Toenning in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Photo: Claußen / LKN.SH

By Helena Horton
29 March 2016

(The Telegraph) – The heartbreaking effect of human waste was discovered when a post-mortem was conducted on 13 beached sperm whales.

The plastic we discard into the ocean often makes its way into the mouths and stomachs of sea creatures.

A post-mortem of the creatures, found ashore near the town of Toenning in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, showed their stomachs were full of plastic.

This plastic included a 13-metre-long (43-foot-long) fisherman’s net and a 70-centimetre (28-inch) piece of plastic from a car.

A man posted a shocking image on Instagram of some of the plastic found in their stomachs. […]

Rob Deaville, project manager for the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), said: “This is the 29th beached whale around the North Sea coast. I have never dealt with anything like this in 20 years,” he said.

"Historically we have had mass strandings but nothing of this scale for decades."

Scientists are investigating whether man-made pollution is to blame. [more]

Post-mortem on thirteen dead sperm whales finds their stomachs full of plastic

A sperm whale lies dead after becoming stranded on a beach between Old Hunstanton and Holme on 5 February 2016 in Hunstanton, England. The whale is the 29th to have died after beaching in Europe in the past two weeks. Photo: Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

By Mary Bowerman
29 March 2016

(USA TODAY) – A necropsy on dead sperm whales that washed up on the shore of Germany earlier this year revealed the ill-fated Giants had an array of plastics in their stomachs, according to researchers.

Four of the 13 whales that washed up on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany had the plastic and other man-made items in their stomachs, according to a statement from the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park.

Researchers found a fishing net, part of a car engine cover and a plastic bucket in the whales' stomachs, according to the March 23 statement.

"These findings show us the effects of our plastic society," Robert Habeck, the environment minister of Schleswig-Holstein, said in a statement. Adding that the animals suffer. "Some starve with full stomachs."

All of the whales were “bachelor” or juvenile males that were not yet sexually mature, according to the statement.

According to researchers, the whales died of acute cardiovascular failure, after they were stranded in the shallow waters of the Wadden Sea. According to the statement, their bodies pressed together in the shallows, which compressed their blood vessels, lungs and organs. [more]

Researchers find plastic, nets in stomachs of dead sperm whales

23 March 2016 (Nationalpark Wattenmeer) – [Translation by Microsoft Translator.] Large amounts of waste have been discovered in the investigation of sperm whales stranded in Schleswig-Holstein. Four of the 13 whales had partly large quantities of plastic waste in their stomachs. While this was not the cause of the stranding and death of animals, but reflect the situation on the open sea. Veterinarians and biologists suspect that particularly affected animals could get major health problems through the remains of the waste. That was evident in the presentation of the findings on 23 March 2016, in the Multimar wattage Forum in Tönning.

The most striking parts of waste include remains of 13 meters long and 1.2 meters wide protection network, which is used in the shrimp fishing, a 70 centimeter-long plastic cover from the engine compartment of a car and the sharp-edged remains of a plastic bucket. "These findings show us the impact of our plastic society: animals unintentionally take plastic and other plastic waste, suffer, in the worst case, some with full stomachs starve. This is an urgent reminder to increasingly tackle waste in the sea. Schleswig-Holstein will continue intensively its efforts to do this," said Environment Minister Robert Habeck.

Sperm whales ran aground - cause of death cardiovascular and circulatory failure

The 13 whales were stranded in January and February on Schleswig-Holstein's North Sea. Professor Ursula Siebert, Director of the Institute for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife research of Foundation veterinary University of Hannover (ITAW), the whales then with her team thoroughly investigated. All the animals were young, immature bulls, 10 to 15 years of age and 12 to 18 tonnes. All of them were in good health and nutritional status. Important for orientation hearing of the animals showed no signs of a severe acoustic trauma and the infestation in the various organs with parasites was age according to normal.

All the animals fell into the shallow water of the Wadden Sea. There is running off water lying on the ground, the weight of her body squeezed their blood vessels, lungs and other organs, so that the animals died of acute heart circulatory failure.

In their stomachs Dr. Uwe Piatkowski, marine biologist of the Kiel GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for ocean research, found with his students as a whole about 110,000 squid beaks, as the indigestible upper and lower jaw of squid are called. 95 percent come from the Nordic Kalmar of bait, the European flying squid. These species occur primarily in the Norwegian Sea, the Barents Sea and the waters around Iceland, major wintering areas of the sperm whale bulls. The beaks were found in a stomach by 21,000 of up to 35 cm long bait squid, which corresponds to a live weight of about 4.2 tons.

Last food intake in the Norwegian Sea

Siebert and Piatkowski have suggested that the dead whales had last eaten in the Norwegian Sea. The first group with three animals had probably just stayed in the North Sea, the second with ten animals probably somewhat longer. Bones and other remains of North Sea fish such as monkfish, cod, whiting, and sea hare were found in some of their stomachs.

Since the beginning of the year, 30 sperm whales were stranded on the North Sea coast in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Germany, alive or dead. In addition, killer whales, fin whales, and minke whales beached on the North and Baltic Sea of Denmark and Germany. Porpoises and a blue-white dolphin in February alive on the shores of Schleswig-Holstein found on, but could be brought up on a porpoise back into deep waters.

The causes of this heaping occurrence are unknown according to the two scientists. Unusually high temperatures and strong storms, which have been registered in the past few weeks in the northern North Atlantic, might have pushed southward water masses from the Norwegian Sea in the North Sea and the cuttlefish with them. The sperm  whales may have followed their main food and arrived, as well as other whale species in the North Sea. A plausible explanation, which is however not proven, since such ecological relationships only with great effort to prove.

Siebert and Piatkowski make clear that the occurrence of sperm whales in the North Sea needs no extraordinary statements. All migratory species occasionally stray outside their actual range. So, relocate them to new habitats and can adapt to new conditions. Sperm whale strandings were also not a new phenomenon. More than 200 discoveries on the North Sea coast are documented since the 16th century, including 21 animals that beached in 1723 in the Elbe estuary in new work.

The sperm whales occurring occasionally in the North Sea are attributed to the Azores stock. The males of this population spend the winter in the North Atlantic. On their migrations, individual animals mistakenly entering the too shallow for them and food-poor North Sea. With their acoustic sense, it can refer there bad. […]

Background to the garbage in the sea

In Schleswig-Holstein, was the subject of "Waste in the sea" a focus of the State Government in 2015 and was accompanied by an intensive information campaign and public relations. "Our joint"fishing for litter' initiative with NABU, the support of plastic-free model regions and waste campaigns help already, to draw attention to the real problem and to bring about a change in society. "Only we not can solve the problem that still long," said h.. The Cabinet has therefore just approved a comprehensive catalogue of measures for the protection of the sea, should be applied also to the source of waste in the manufacturing industry, where. The implementation of these measures will be coordinated at the federal level by a round table of various stakeholders in the future. "Schleswig-Holstein is committed to necessary legal regulations at national or EU level, also for a micro plastic ban", Habeck said.

(Press release of the Ministry of energy, agriculture, environment and rural areas in Schleswig-Holstein)

Untersuchung der gestrandeten Pottwale: Große Mengen Plastikmüll in den Mägen gefunden – Umweltminister Habeck: „Das mahnt uns, verstärkt gegen Müll im Meer vorzugehen.“



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