Biologists who examined a gray whale that died after getting stranded on a West Seattle beach say it had a large amount of garbage in its stomach — ranging from a pair of sweat pants to a golf ball.
The scientists say most of the whale’s stomach contents was algae — typical of the bottom-feeding mammals. But they say a surprising amount of human debris was found.
Besides the pants and golf ball, there were more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, duct tape and surgical gloves.
The 12-metre whale beached itself last Wednesday.
The gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly.
It reaches a length of about 16 metres, a weight of 36 tonnes and lives 50–60 years.
Gray whales were once called devil fish because of their fighting behavior when hunted.
This mammal descended from filter-feeding whales that developed at the beginning of the Oligocene, over 30 million years ago.
The gray whale is distributed in an eastern North Pacific (American) population and a critically endangered western North Pacific (Asian) population. North Atlantic populations became extinct in the 18th century.