30 sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) stranded along the coasts of the North Sea between January and February 2016. The gastro-intestinal tracts of 22 of the carcasses were investigated. Marine debris including netting, ropes, foils, packaging material and a part of a car were found in nine of the 22 individuals. Here we provide details about the findings and consequences for the animals. While none of the items was responsible for the death of the animal, the findings demonstrate the high level of exposure to marine debris and associated risks for large predators, such as the sperm whale.
Bianca Unger, Elisa L. Bravo Rebolledo, Rob Deaville, Andrea Gröne, Lonneke L. IJsseldijk, Mardik F. Leopold, Ursula Siebert, Jérôme Spitz, Peter Wohlsein, Helena Herr, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 112, Issues 1–2, 15 November 2016, Pages 134–141