Whales

Oh, the places plastic will go

View of collected plastic waste at Guacalillo beach, in Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Collected plastic waste at Guacalillo beach, Costa Rica. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images

The ubiquity of plastics has led some researchers to dub this era the Plastic Age. From macro to micro, plastics are slowly permeating our bodies, our oceans and even our air.

Why it matters: By one estimate, nearly 80% of plastic waste has accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment, and it’s uncertain how long it takes to degrade.

NOAA launches investigation to find cause of death for 70 stranded gray whales

In this image, a crowd stands around a large dead whale on a beach.
The 13th gray whale to wash up on a San Francisco Bay Area beach. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At least 70 dead gray whales have washed up on the west coast this year, according to a statement made Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, ABC reports.

Why it matters: The death toll is higher than we presently know. These stranded whales represent only 10% of how many have actually died, per research biologist John Calambokidis. NOAA has launched a scientific investigation into the cause of the deaths, describing it as an "unusual mortality event."