Whale found in Thailand dies from eating over 80 plastic bags

A whale found in a canal in southern Thailand has died after eating more than 80 plastic bags, according to officials.

The small male pilot whale was barely alive when he was discovered on Monday in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said. Rescuers attempted to nurse the whale back to health, but he died on Friday after spitting up five plastic bags.

An autopsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.

Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the marine and coastal resources department, told Reuters that the whale likely thought the floating plastic bags were food.

Thailand is one of the largest plastic polluters in the world, dumping over 1 millions tons of garbage into the sea annually, according to the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

RELATED: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Trash and assorted garbage collected form the North Pacific Gyre. The ORV Alguita returns to Long beach after four months at sea sampling the waters of the great Pacific garbage patch' in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying and educating the public about the effects of oceanic micro-plastic pollution on the ocean's ecosystem and marine life for over ten years. Long Beach, California, USA.

(Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Trash and assorted garbage collected form the North Pacific Gyre. The ORV Alguita returns to Long beach after four months at sea sampling the waters of the great Pacific garbage patch' in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying and educating the public about the effects of oceanic micro-plastic pollution on the ocean's ecosystem and marine life for over ten years. Long Beach, California, USA. (Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Plastic sample jars. The ORV Alguita returns to Long beach after four months at sea sampling the waters of the great Pacific garbage patch' in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying and educating the public about the effects of oceanic micro-plastic pollution on the ocean's ecosystem and marine life for over ten years. Long Beach, California, USA. (Photo by Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Plastic sample jars. The ORV Alguita returns to Long beach after four months at sea sampling the waters of the great Pacific garbage patch' in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying and educating the public about the effects of oceanic micro-plastic pollution on the ocean's ecosystem and marine life for over ten years. Long Beach, California, USA. (Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
Trash and assorted garbage collected form the North Pacific Gyre. The ORV Alguita returns to Long beach after four months at sea sampling the waters of the great Pacific garbage patch' in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying and educating the public about the effects of oceanic micro-plastic pollution on the ocean's ecosystem and marine life for over ten years. Long Beach, California, USA. (Photo by: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 02: Marine researcher Charles Moore holds an ocean water sample with debris from the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch? in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. The garbage patch is a floating garbage dump about the size of Australia created by Pacific currents. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 02: Marine researcher Charles Moore holds a tray of debris collected on a beach in Hawaii washed ashore from the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch? in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. The garbage patch is a floating garbage dump about the size of Australia created by Pacific currents. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 02: Marine researcher Charles Moore displays a tray of toothbrushes collected among the debris on a beach in Hawaii washed ashore from the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. The garbage patch is a floating garbage dump about the size of Australia created by Pacific currents. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 02: Marine researcher Charles Moore displays plastic debris, including umbrella handles, collected on a beach in Hawaii washed ashore from the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. The garbage patch is a floating garbage dump about the size of Australia created by Pacific currents. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A small amount of debris found by Ocean Voyages Institute's ship, the Kaisei, is put on display in Richmond, British Columbia August 8, 2012. The tall ship has just returned from the North Pacific where crew members tracked and salvaged man-made debris found floating in the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship also conducted research on debris from last year's Japanese tsunami, which is currently floating across the Pacific and beginning to wash up on shores along the North American West Coast. REUTERS/Andy Clark (CANADA - Tags: SOCIETY MARITIME DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
Mary Crowley, executive director and founder of the Ocean Voyages Institute, walks onboard their ship, the Kaisei, in Richmond, British Columbia August 8, 2012. The tall ship has just returned from the North Pacific where crew members tracked and salvaged manmade debris found floating in the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship also conducted research on debris from last year's Japanese tsunami, which is currently floating across the Pacific and beginning to wash up on shores along the North American West Coast. REUTERS/Andy Clark (CANADA - Tags: SOCIETY MARITIME DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A liquor bottle, found amid the debris recovered by Ocean Voyages Institute's ship, the Kaisei, is put on display in Richmond, British Columbia August 8, 2012. The tall ship has just returned from the North Pacific where crew members tracked and salvaged manmade debris found floating in the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ship also conducted research on debris from last year's Japanese tsunami, which is currently floating across the Pacific and beginning to wash up on shores along the North American West Coast. REUTERS/Andy Clark (CANADA - Tags: DISASTER MARITIME SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - JUNE 22: The Ocean Clean Up North Sea Prototype lies in the water after its unveiling to the press on June 22, 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands. Initiated by Dutch environmentalist Boyan Slat, the Ocean Cleanup's floating barrier will be tested for extreme weather at sea to prepare for its eventual deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)
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The ministry announced in September that it was focused on developing a better way to deal with the massive amounts of waste produced by Thailand each year.

At least 300 marine animals, including whales, dolphins and sea turtles, die in Thai waters annually from ingesting plastic, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University, told The Guardian. 

“It’s a huge problem,” he said. “We use a lot of plastic.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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