Why would an apex ocean predator eat gloves? Or rope? Or plastic cups? How does a whale end up with more than 200 pounds of waste in its stomach?
Last week, a ten-year-old whale was found dead on a beach in Scotland. A necropsy revealed 220 pounds of plastic and other trash congealed in clumps in his digestive system. The tragedy grabbed headlines—the sheer quantity of debris eclipsed that found in a growing number of similar cases: large whales discovered dead on beaches around the world with stomachs full of garbage.
I thought this would end up being quite a simple answer, but it turns out animals eat plastic for a whole host of reasons.