A young sperm whale was found washed up on a beach with a stomach packed full of plastic bags.
Horrific pictures show the animal, believed to be seven years old, laying on the beach in popular tourist spot Cefalu, Sicily.
Greenpeace Italia were called to assist in the investigation and clean-up operation – sharing images on Facebook which show the shocking amount of rubbish removed from the carcas.
The organisation's Giorgia Monti said in a statement: "As you can see from the images we're sharing, a lot of plastic was found in its stomach.
"A probe of the sperm whale's death has just started and we don't know yet if the animal died because of this, but we certainly can't pretend that nothing is happening.
"Five sperm whales beached on Italian coasts in the last five months."
Experts performed a necropsy investigation on Sunday, assisted by Carmelo Isgro, who works at the University of Messina's natural history museum.
He also shared horrific images and footage on Facebook, showing a pile of plastic bags and other images pulled from the carcas.
Isgro said: "I'm shocked – another sperm whale with its stomach full of plastic.
"Here are the photos that tell the incredible operation of necropsy and scarification carried out yesterday directly on the beach in Cefalù.
"They are strong images, but I want everyone to see to understand what we are doing to our sea and its inhabitants."
While there has not been confirmation the whale died as a result of the plastic, Isgro added it was "very likely to be the cause of death".
Isgro told CNN there were "several kilograms worth of plastic" inside the stomach.
He said: "The plastic probably created a block that didn't let the food in.
"That's very likely to be the cause of death. We have not found signs that could indicate another possible reason.
"I'm still shocked because her belly was completely full, swollen with plastic."
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