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Plastic found in stomach of whale washed up on Kanagawa Pref. beach

The carcass of a juvenile blue whale that washed up on Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter, on Aug. 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

There was plastic in the stomach of the juvenile blue whale that washed up in August on the shore in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, a research group investigating the remains has found.

It appears that the mammal was less than 6 months old, an age when whales typically only drink their mother's milk.

"It probably swallowed the plastic accidentally. The large amount of garbage floating in the ocean comes to mind," commented a representative of the research group, which includes members from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.

The whale was found washed up on Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Aug. 5, and the body was removed by the museum and others the next day. When the whale was dissected, a piece of plastic 3 centimeters square was discovered inside its stomach. The plastic was clear and malleable, and does not appear connected to the whale's death.

"It was a shock to find a plastic fragment inside a juvenile whale," said Yuko Tajima , a curator at the museum's Department of Zoology, who has examined the carcasses of many washed-up ocean mammals. "I would like people to seriously consider the problem of the garage in our oceans."

(Japanese original by Suzuko Araki, Science & Environment News Department)

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