According to the Charleston Post and Courier, a mother pygmy sperm whale and her nursing calf were found dead in late-night breakers near Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, earlier this week.
A plastic garbage bag killed them. Evidently the mother whale ingested the bag, couldn’t eat, and was in severe pain.
Marine animals often mistake plastic in the water for food. Critically endangered leatherback turtles, for example, eat mainly jellyfish. Plastic bags in the water resemble their favorite food and so they eat them and die.
As the article says:
Marine debris is one of those gnawing concerns for conservationists and biologists. Animals eat it and get tangled up in it. Debris can damage ships and transport invasive species. And human health concerns have begun to be raised. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched a multi-agency task force trying to educate people.
When you are out on the water this summer, stow your waste on board the boat and if you see things floating in the water, pick them up and dispose of them on the dock.