Whale chokes on Thai plastic 

Around 80 separate bits of plastic weighing 8kg were found in the stomach of a pilot whale that died in Thailand after a five-day effort to save him, according to the authorities. 

He was discovered last Monday in a canal in the southern province of Songkhla and received treatment from Thai vets.

The Marine and Coastal Resources Department said: “This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food.” Department head Jatuporn Buruspat said the death might raise awareness about plastic waste ahead of World Oceans Day on June 8.

The phrase “my sigh tung” (not with bag) can be used to stop Thai vendors using unnecessary bags with all products. 

Rescuers lay the shuddering pilot whale in a shallow canal, but it could not eat and struggled to swim and breathe. Umbrellas were fitted to protect it from the sun.

Buoys kept its mouth of the water to stop it from drowning. 

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist at Bangkok’s Kasetsart University, said: “If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die.” He estimated that at least 300 marine animals whales, turtles, dolphins and other large sea creatures die each year after ingesting plastic in Thai waters, often mistaking it for food. 

Visitors to Thailand are often surprised to see bottled drinks poured by street vendors into a bag full of ice and with a straw in a separate bag. Snacks are normally sold in an inner and outer bag with the latter containing a plastic fork and smaller bags of condiments.  

Pilot whales mainly feed on squid but can feed on octopus and small fish when squid was unavailable, said the American Cetacean Society, a whale conservation group.

Thailand is one of the world’s largest plastic polluters, dumping over 1 million tonnes of garbage into the sea annually, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. 

Thais can be seen nonchalantly dropping single-use plastic waste off the side of boats. 

The ministry said last year it was developing better ways to deal with Thailand’s plastic waste crisis. Meals are habitually served in disposable plastic and polystyrene containers which can be seen clogging waterways and beaches around the country.  

Thailand has run campaigns to try to encourage people to use fewer bags and reuse existing receptacles with little effect. 

A study by the UK government warned that, without intervention, the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans would triple within a decade.

The UK Office for Science said 70 per cent of marine litter was non-degradable plastic.


Plastic bags removed from the whale’s stomach. Picture credit: YouTube