A dead whale washed up on a Philippine beach was distressing enough, but museum workers have deemed what they found inside the creature's gut "disgusting." The BBC reports that the Cuvier's beaked whale turned up on the shoreline east of Davao City on Saturday, and when workers from the D'Bone Collector Museum opened up the whale's belly, they found "the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale," the educational NGO said in a Facebook post. Although they're still working on documenting all the contents of the whale's belly, workers say they've so far extracted 88 pounds of plastic, including "16 rice sacks, four banana plantation-style bags, and multiple shopping bags." CNN Philippines reports the cause of death for the whale—which the New York Times notes was 15 feet long and 1,100 pounds—as dehydration and starvation due to plastic ingestion.
Starvation comes about because eating plastic makes the whales feel full, which leads them to eat less and not get the nutrients they need. Marine biologist Darrell Blatchley explains that the reason dehydration set in as well is because whales hydrate from the water in their food sources, not from drinking it. "I was not prepared for the amount of plastic," he tells CNN, adding to the Times, "The plastic in some areas was so compact it was almost becoming calcified, almost like a solid brick." The BBC notes that, based on reports from environmental groups, countries in Asia are to blame for much of the pollution in the world's oceans, with China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand listed as the prime offenders. "This cannot continue," Blatchley tells CNN. "The Philippines needs to change from the children up or nothing will be left." (Read more whales stories.)