Officials: Whale Died in Lower Chesapeake From Broken DVD Case

A plastic DVD case may have caused the death of a small whale that swam into the Chesapeake Bay last week, got stuck and died on the shores of a creek off Elizabeth River. Officials believe the whale swallowed a large chunk of the broken case and couldn’t eat.

Tamara Dietrich with the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia, reported the 45-foot whale was sickly and thin. It had been swimming erradically in Virginia’s rivers and creeks for the past week. It was found dead in St. Julien’s Creek.

Whale in lower Chesapeake Bay
Photo courtesy Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia

“Yesterday it was kind of stuck in some shallow water, and during high tide it managed to free itself of that only to go across the creek and kind of be stranded there,” Virginia Aquarium spokeswoman Joan Barns told the Daily Press.

The aquarium’s Stranding Response Team in Virginia Beach had been tracking the whale. 

“There’s nothing you can do when it’s free-swimming,” says aquarium research and conservation director, Mark Swingle.

He told the Daily Press that they were hoping the 20-ton whale would make it back into the ocean where it stood a better chance of survival.

Aaron Applegate reports investigators with the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center found a sharp piece of plastic in the whale’s stomach, which might have prevented the sei whale from eating. Officials say they also found evidence the whale has been hit by a  ship shortly before dying.

Plastic found in a dead whale
Piece of plastic found in the whale, believed to be from a DVD case (photo courtesy Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center)


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