Body of Dead Whale Discovered Full of Plastic Waste

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. assorted / əˈsoɚtəd / (adj) – including different kinds of things

    There are assorted types of tropical fish in the aquarium.

  2. wash up / wɑːʃ ʌp / (phrasal) – to be carried from a body of water to land

    Tons of dead fish washed up on the shore.

  3. decompose / ˌdiːkəmˈpoʊz / (v) – to be broken down or destroyed

    The fallen leaves have started to turn brown and decompose.

  4. ingest / ɪnˈʤɛst / (v) – to eat and swallow something

    The shark died because it ingested a sharp object.

  5. defenseless / dɪˈfɛnsləs / (adj) – not strong enough to protect oneself

    Baby whales are defenseless, so their mothers always stay by their side to protect them.


Read the text below.

A dead sperm whale was found in Indonesia with assorted plastic wastes inside its stomach.

The 31-foot sperm whale washed up near the shores of Wakatobi National Park in Indonesia. According to park officials, the whale was already decomposing when it was found. Upon opening its stomach, the officials recovered 115 plastic cups, 25 plastic bags, four plastic bottles, two flip-flops, a nylon sack, and a thousand other kinds of plastic. In total, the whale had ingested nearly six kilograms worth of plastic waste.

Representatives from the World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, a wildlife conservation group, inspected the dead whale. They said that they could not determine if the plastic waste contributed to its death because the body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

Nicholas Mallos, an expert from the environmental organization Ocean Conservancy, also weighed in on the issue. He explained that consuming plastic makes whales feel full, so they neglect to eat the food that their body needs. Consequently, whales become weak, thin, and defenseless against predators.

Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is alarmed by the possibility that other marine animals are also consuming plastic waste. He hopes that the whale’s death pushes people to reduce their use of plastic.

Pandjaitan also said that the Indonesian government is taking measures to cut down the public’s use of plastic by 70% by 2025. Some of these efforts include improving recycling programs, starting cleanup initiatives, and banning stores from using plastic.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the discovery of the dead whale will encourage people around the world to reduce their plastic use? Why or why not?
• Do you think the initiatives of the Indonesian government are enough to limit the use of plastic? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• If you were to start your own environmental organization, what specific issue would you focus on? Talk about the importance of solving that issue.
• What initiatives would you take to solve that issue? Discuss.