Experts have found plastic in the stomach of a dead blue whale washed ashore in eastern Japan earlier this month. They say it is an example of how marine plastic contamination is spreading.
National Museum of Nature and Science experts and other scientists discovered a folded piece of plastic inside the male cub, which was found on a beach in Kanagawa Prefecture.
The plastic is reported to measure roughly 3 centimeters by 3 centimeters.
The experts say that as a blue whale cub of his age usually drinks only mother's milk, the cub might have unintentionally swallowed it while swimming.
They add that even though the plastic may not be the direct cause of his death, it is a sign of how widespread plastic pollution in the ocean is.
In February, some 29 kilograms of plastics were found in the internal organs of a sperm whale washed ashore in Spain.
The death of a whale found on the coast of Thailand in May was attributed to dozens of plastic bags discovered in its stomach.
A United Nations Environment Programme report warns that the issue will likely become more serious.
It predicts some 600 marine species will be affected.
It also estimates that by 2050, the oceans will carry more plastic than fish and 99 percent of seabirds will end up ingesting plastic.