University Museum of Bergen

Scientists found 30 plastic bags in whale's stomach

A sick goose-beaked whale was found on the west coast of Norway. Its stomach was filled eith 30 plastic bags, and many smaller pieces of plastic. The whale was emaciated, and scientists believe that the plastic had gathered in such an amount in its stomach that it had created a plug, stopping the digestive process.

Gåsenebbhval Espegrend
Terje Lislevand

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The plastic bags and large amounts of microplastics was found in the stomach of a dead goose-beaked whale found by the shores of the island Sotra, about ten miles west of Bergen, Norway.

The whale was alive when it stranded by the shore Saturday January 28th. It was emaciated and clearly very sick, and was therefore put down by the authorities.

The goose-beaked whale is very rare at these shores, and it was therefore decided that the whale should be given to the University Museum of Bergen. Five scientists spent six hours dismembering the remains. When they opened the whale’s stomach, they found the plastic bags, the probable cause of the whale’s disease.  

According to Terje Lislevand, associate professor at the Natural History Collections, University of Bergen, there is no doubt that the whale has suffered immensely.

– This is a sad reminder of the damage we do to our environment, and especially to our oceans, Lislevand says.   

The findings have got wide international media coverage. ( see relevant links)

Plastic: The true junk food of the oceans

A whale recently had to be put down by wildlife management after it had repeatedly beached itself on the island of Sotra outside of Bergen. It was found to be a Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), a species with apparently no official previous records from Norway. The University Museum of Bergen therefore wished to include the whale skeleton in its collections.....