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Stranded whale was discovered full of plastic

The beached whale off Luskentyre Beach.
The beached whale off Luskentyre Beach.

A sperm whale which washed up in the Western Isles had a staggering 16 stone of plastic in its belly.

The 52-foot whale – believed to be an adult male – was seen on Wednesday night near West Tarbert on the Isle of Harris before being stranded on a sandbank at Seilebost on Thursday.

Despite valiant efforts by rescuers, the whale died at the scene.

Members of the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme performed a necropsy at the weekend.

A spokesman said: “In this whale’s stomach was approximately 100kg of marine debris – a whole range of plastic including sections of net, bundles of rope, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps and tubing.

“All this material was in a huge ball in the stomach and some of it it looked like it had been there for some time.”

He said that while it was possible this was a factor in the stranding, they couldn’t find evidence it had impacted the intestines.

But he added: “This amount of plastic in the stomach is nonetheless horrific and must have compromised digestion.”

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