The Inertia Senior Editor
The whale was found with its stomach full of garbage.

The whale was found with its stomach full of garbage. Photo: Orca Foundation

The Inertia

Last month, a dead killer whale washed ashore in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, with a stomach full of trash. According to researchers, the whale had almost no real food inside of it–instead, it had plastic containers, the sole of a shoe, and various food wrappers.

Clearly, it wasn’t a painless death. For over a week, the orca swam in the relatively shallow waters of the bay while residents of the area kayaked out to look at it. Although orcas generally swim in pods, this one was alone, and scientists believe it was sick and separated from the group. Once in the bay, the whale ate what it could find, but there was something very wrong. “We’re not sure whether it’s cause or effect, but she might have been trying to pick up anything she could,” said Dr. Gwenith Penry, Plett Stranding Network coordinator. “Or she swallowed something earlier on and it blocked her passages, so she felt full, but wasn’t digesting.” When the whale eventually beached itself, volunteers kept it wet with buckets of water until crews managed to get it back into deeper water. Then, three days later, it was found dead.

It’s no secret that humans are royally screwing up the planet. The irony is that what’s screwing it up is our efforts to make our own lives easier and presumably better–but in the age of convenience, we’ve created a thoroughly disposable way of living, and it’s one that just isn’t working. Unfortunately, the kind of changes necessary require a shift on a global scale, involving governments and citizens alike. A few days ago, a report came out stating that if we continue the way we’re going, the ocean will have more trash in it than fish by the year 2050.

“The best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tons of plastics in the ocean today,” the study says. “In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).”

We’re currently letting just under 10 million tons of plastic into the ocean every year. If you break that number down into a more understandable scale, it works out to a garbage truck full of plastic every single minute of every single day. It’s no wonder, then, that the only thing the starving whale could find to eat was our garbage. According to The Dodo, the whale was taken to the dump, where it was dissected.

The orca was taken to a dump to be dissected.

The orca was taken to a dump to be dissected. Photo: Orca Foundation

While there are a few efforts to begin fixing the problem–Boyan Slat’s ingenious Ocean Cleanup Array, for instance–they are few and far between, and for the most part, only serve to make the tiniest dent in a problem that is getting bigger with each passing day. The killer whale’s death is yet another indicator that we need make major changes to our way of living, and we need to do it as soon as possible. Hubert Reeves said it best: “Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible nature, unaware that the nature he’s destroying is the God he’s worshiping.”

  • Albee Doh

    I hope I’m still alive when this all catches up to our cancer of a species so I can clap with glee as we are forced to eat the only thing left to consume: each other.

    No species in the Earth’s history is more deserving of extinction than humans. And I hope it’s as slow and painful a process as possible. It’s what we deserve.

    • Paul

      No need to wait. There are other cannibals out there for you to meet. Not sure how you find them online but its happened before. Think positive.

      • Albee Doh

        There’s not much that’s positive about humans. Too few exceptions to make optimism worth the effort. I’m a realist and the reality is that we suck. Everything on this planet would be better off without us.

        • Paul

          So do you hope for the days where you will be painfully eaten alive or not? It was your idea!

    • cherilyn

      Lady, speak freely and soley for YOURSELF! Man is a corruptible lifeform because of SIN! Things were never meant to be like this, ever. However, this is the result of the departure from the Almighty. I am not waiting to eat or be eaten by humans. I have delightfully placed my hope in Jesus Christ, the Hope of Glory. Until Christ’s return, I will do what I can to make as much positive difference as I can. It takes a world’s peoples to care. Unfortunately we can’t help what its peoples do, but you can help what you do. Don’t let the things in this world make you bitter, angry, unhappy, depressed, or without hope!! Seek Christ Jesus if you dare to have a changed outlook. Take care, friend.

      • Pete

        oh, man. I cannot WAIT for Albee’s response to this.

      • Albee Doh

        All I can say to that is:


        There is no God. And Jesus was a hypocrite who condoned slavery and child slavery.

        Yes, he did.

        • cherilyn

          You’re a blind fool, a liar, or both. Jesus did no such thing. If the truth be in you, name the Book, Chapter, and verse where The Christ said these things? You lay it out, and I shall eat this computer from which I type on, while streaming it live from another one. If not, consider yourself the lying dog that you are who will STAND IN JUDGEMENT BEFORE THE LIVING GOD!

          • Albee Doh

            Ephesians 6.

            Bon appetite!

    • Christine Finney

      i totally agree, humans are the cruelest living thing. Im ashamed to be human most of the time

  • Tim Nelsen

    let’s hear from the researchers, instead…

    • Albee Doh

      How about you get off your lazy ass, give ’em a call yourself, and report your findings?

      I personally know researches doing this work right now. They find animals with human garbage in their guts all the time. What else? People who take their dogs to the beach later see cigarette butts in their poop, along with other awesome junk they gobbled up while out enjoying “nature.”

      And have you seen how much plastic has been exponentially accumulating all over Bali and Indo beaches over the last decade thanks to westerners and Aussies?

      If animals weren’t interested in plastic and other synthetics then they’d never swallow fishing lures.

  • dc matthews

    How much of it seems to be coming from commercial shipping, yachters and beach partiers and can that be better policed?

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