Plastic peril: Whale dies after swallowing 80 shopping bags

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An autopsy conducted in Thailand over the weekend discovered so many large plastic sacks crammed into the whale's stomach that officials were unable to move around in the operating theatre without standing on the rubbish.

Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources says the small male pilot whale was found last week.

A team of veterinarians and volunteers spent about five days trying to treat the sick short-fin pilot whale. The latest example is a dead whale who was found with 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

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"If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die", he said.

According to the Thai Marine and Coastal Resources Department, an autopsy revealed that the whale had ingested around 8kg of plastic bags, which were preventing the whale from being able to eat.

The Thai government last month said it was considering a levy on disposable plastic shopping bags.

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"Without specific goals for reducing plastic consumption and more effective waste management, people do not know what to do, even if they want to do more", said Tara Buakamsri, Thailand country director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

More than 5 trillion pieces of trash - and counting - are in the world's oceans, according to a 2014 study.

The whale's death comes as dozens of cities and companies worldwide are moving to crack down on plastic pollution by banning the use of non-reusable plastic containers, bags and drinking straws. "Plastic remains in our ecosystem for years, harming thousands of sea creatures every day", the United Nations explained.

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A 30ft sperm whale, weighing nearly seven tons, was found dead on a Spanish beach earlier this year with more than 60lb of rubbish trapped in its guts.