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Fact Check: Did Sperm Whales in Germany Really Die After Ingesting Plastic?

Fact Check: Did Sperm Whales in Germany Really Die After Ingesting Plastic?

The photo was shared more than 7,300 times after being posted on Facebook.

A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter which claim it shows two dead sperm whales in Germany after their stomachs filled with plastic and car parts. The claim is false; the two mammals were found on the UK’s east coast; a scientific study published later found the reasons for their deaths was complex, but there was “no evidence of man-made trauma”.

The photo was shared more than 7,300 times after being posted on Facebook on April 19, 2019. The image shows two whales lying side-by-side on a beach. They are surrounded by a makeshift fence and a group of people.

The caption alongside the post states: “Two dead sperm whales in Germany with stomachs full of plastic & car parts...”

Here's a screenshot:

The claim is false. A reverse image search on Google found the same photo published in this January 2016 Daily Express article about five dead sperm whales which washed up on the British coast. The caption states: "Two of the three huge sperm whales have washed up on a beach in Lincolnshire."

The article states in part: “FIVE dead sperm whales the size of a bus have washed up on a British beach while one of them EXPLODED during an autopsy.

“The most recent washed up whale was discovered five miles from Skegness, where three more bodies were found yesterday.”

“Another whale was found on Saturday across The Wash from Hunstanton in Norfolk.”

An expert is quoted in the story saying the whales probably swam south looking for food but got disorientated.