Sperm whale dies after washing up on Northumberland coast

Thirty-tonne giant became stuck on sands hundreds of miles from species’ usual warmer waters

Colin Drury
Sunday 13 October 2019 00:00
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Sperm whale dies on Northumberland shore

A sperm whale spotted close to the Northumberland shoreline has beached itself and died.

The 30-tonne giant drew crowds when it was seen in the shallows of the North Sea on Thursday.

But experts who warned it was unlikely to survive so far from its usual tropical waters were proven right on Friday evening when the 13.3 metre male became stuck on sands near Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and died.

A spokesman for British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: “We don’t tend to see sperm whales in the North Sea unless there’s been some sort of a problem – it’s not the habitat that they should be in.

“It’s more than likely that in this case it’s taken a wrong turn.”

The species – the biggest of the toothed whales – tend to stick to warmer southern waters where the giant squids which they feed on can be found in plentiful supply.

Following the beaching, a warning was issued for people to stay away from the massive carcass.

The BDMLR spokesperson said: “It is very important to note that cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises – are mammals like us humans, and therefore able to carry serious diseases that can be transmitted between us.

“We would advise members of the public to avoid all contact with the carcass and any bodily fluids to avoid any risk of infection from them. There is the possibility that this may have been an animal that was already ill.

“Incidents like this do tend to draw crowds and we would urge people to please be respectful of this situation and advice provided.”

Speaking before the whale’s tragic end, local eyewitness Paul Lanagan, 38, told the Daily Mail: “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

A post mortem will now be carried out to determine exactly why it died.

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It comes just days after the death of another whale which had also apparently become lost in British waters.

The humpback whale nicknamed Hessy was killed earlier in the week after swimming into the Thames, in London, where it was struck by a boat.

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