A pregnant sperm whale was found dead with nearly 50 pounds of plastic in its belly - the second such death in the last month

dead whaleA whale is lifted up onto a truck after being recovered off Sardinia island, Italy. The 26-foot-long sperm whale was found dead with 48.5 pounds of plastic found in its belly.SEAME Sardinia Onlus/AP

  • A 26-foot-long, pregnant sperm whale has washed up dead on the shores of Sardinia.
  • The animal had more than 48 pounds of plastic in its belly, including plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines, and detergent packaging.
  • This is one of at least five whales that have died from plastics around the world in the last two years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
  • On March 16, another whale washed up dead in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic bags and rice sacks in its stomach.

A dead sperm whale washed up on the shores of Porto Cervo in Sardinia last week. Nearly 50 pounds of plastic were found in its belly.

While the cause of death is not certain, the contents of the whale's stomach included a corrugated tube, plastic plates, shopping bags, tangled fishing lines, and a detergent package with the brand and bar code still legible.

The whale was also carrying an unborn fetus.

"She was pregnant and had almost certainly aborted before she beached," Luca Bittau, president of the SeaMe group, told CNN. "The fetus was in an advanced state of composition."

This is one of at least five whales that have died from plastics around the world in the last two years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Last month, a similar scenario played out in the Phillippines, when a curvier's beaked whale washed up dead with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach. That whale had so much plastic in its digestive system that it couldn't get nourishment from food, and therefore died from dehydration and starvation after vomiting blood, scientists said.

Read More: A whale washed up dead in the Philippines with almost 100 pounds worth of trash in its stomach, including plastic shopping bags and rice sacks

Bittau told CNN that veterinarians in Padua would be performing "histological and toxicological examinations" on the new carcass to determine the exact cause of death. But it is likely related to plastic as well.

dead whalePeople gather around the carcass of a dead whale as it is transported on a truck from a beach along the Arabian Sea in Mumbai, India, January 29, 2016.Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

On average, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, though the maximum amount could be closer to 12.7 million metric tons.

Cities and countries around the world are slowly taking steps to ban single-use plastics: The European Parliament has approved a law banning single-use straws, cotton balls, and cutlery by 2021. But those policies come too late for this sperm whale and her unborn calf.

Ironically, the whale died within the Pelagos marine sanctuary, a nearly 34,000-square-mile protected area for dolphins, whales, and marine life in the Mediterranean Sea between Sardinia, Italy, and France.

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