Featured Image Credit: The Marine Mammal Center
By Laura O’Brien
The necropsy of a whale that washed up at Point Reyes beach on December 24th last year revealed disconcerting injuries. The 30-foot juvenile humpback had injuries on its mouth, the back of its neck, and its shoulder, which were consistent with entanglement. By the time the whale washed ashore, whatever had previously wrapped around the whale’s body had fallen off, and decomposition as well as bloating prevented experts at the Marine Mammal Center based in Sausalito from determining what the whale had become entangled in.
Unfortunately, there is so much man-made debris in the ocean that there is no way to guess with certainty what exactly injured the whale. In fact, the garbage “island” that is floating in the Pacific ocean is now about the size of the entire state of Alaska, which is the largest state in the US. Most of that massive environmental nightmare is fishing gear. Although the deceased whale that washed up on Point Reyes beach had been dead too long to determine if it died as a result of the entanglement, fishing gear is known to be responsible for countless marine-life deaths, often through entanglement or ingestion. Although many governments and companies are creating new regulations in an effort to address the issues that fishing debris causes, more action needs to take place. Conservationists and animal lovers must continue to demand that governments and companies take responsibility for protecting our oceans.
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