"Grey Whale Gorged on Debris Before It Died in West Seattle"

"Worried whale researchers in Washington state are wondering where a grey whale had been feeding before it died in West Seattle last week.

The 11-metre whale, which came ashore alive, swallowed an unusual amount of garbage, including sweatpants, a towel, a golf ball, rubber gloves, drink containers and numerous plastic bags.

"There was about 50 gallons of material [in the stomach] and, although most was algae and marine plants, it had more than 20 pieces of human debris," said John Calambokidis, research biologist with Cascadia Research, an Olympia-based marine mammal research group.

The garbage accounted for only one to two per cent of the stomach contents and did not cause the animal's death, but Calambokidis is wondering what other toxins the whale might have ingested in urban areas.

'It is a concern. The garbage, for me, is an indicator of exposure to more contaminants in urban bays,' he said."

Judith Lavoie reports for the Victoria Times Colonist April 21, 2010.

Thursday, April 22, 2010