Whales, often considered to be among nature’s grandest creatures, have been documented for the first time frolicking in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, often considered to be among mankind’s most idiotic creations. Finally, these two enormous masses—one majestic, one absolutely awful—can mingle as one.
The meeting of whale and garbage patch was documented in a new study in the journal Marine Biodiversity, which observed that the two actually collided back in October 2016. Aw. Happy anniversary!
“It is well known that ocean plastics pose a threat to marine mammals, with many cases of entanglement and ingestion interactions being recorded worldwide. Here, we describe the first cetacean sightings made within the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”
In total, four sperm whales (which included a mother and calf pair), three beaked whales, two baleen whales, and at least five other cetaceans were seen in the patch. Of course, “interacting” with the patch probably doesn’t mean coasting smoothly through it; most likely, they are eating or getting tangled in the plastic that comprises it. This, of course, can lead to gastrointestinal distress followed by death!
In March, a dead dead Cuvier’s beaked whale with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach was found in the Philippines, and over the winter, a dead sperm whale containing 1,000 pieces of plastic—including 115 drinking cups, 25 plastic bags, plastic bottles, two flip-flops, and more than 1,000 pieces of string—was found ashore in Indonesia.
While the ocean is home to many garbage patches, the GPGP, located between California and Hawaii, is said to home to an estimated 80,000 tons of plastic, making it the largest in the world. We’re doing great.